The verbs avere and essere

The two most important verbs in the Italian language are essere (to be) and avere (to have). Here they are in full:

Avere Essere
io ho sono
tu hai sei
lei/lui ha è
noi abbiamo siamo
voi avete siete
loro hanno sono

Both of these verbs crop up again and again and students should become more and more familiar with them as they progress through the beginners course.

We learn ‘essere‘ when introducing ourselves. “Sono Alessandra”, “sono di Roma”, “sono italiana”.


We also begin to use it in the negative form early in the beginners course. “Non sono inglese”.

Then when we tell people what we do for a living we might say “Sono infermiere” or “Sono in pensione” or ” Sono disoccupato” for a man or “Sono disoccupata” for a woman.

You use essere to introduce your family and friends: “Questo è mio marito”, “Questa è mia moglie”, “questo è mio fratello”, “questa è mia nonna” etc.

The verb ‘avere‘ comes a close second to ‘essere‘ in terms of how much it is used in the Italian language.

When asking people about their family you might ask “ha figli?” or “hai figli?” depending on whether you are using the formal or polite form.

Your answer might be “Ho un figlio” or perhaps you would use the negative “Non ho figli”.

We use “avere” when talking about our age “Quanti anni hai?” or “Ho 21 anni”.

When we come to forming the past tense in level 2 these two verbs are absolutely critical so it’s well worth getting to grips with them early on.

Get in touch with Girotondo about Italian classes in Cheltenham

If you are interested in learning Italian and would like to discuss the different courses that we offer in more detail please contact Lindsay Chessari on 07478 710 022 or at