Present tense of the verb essere (to be)
|sono||I am||siamo||we are|
|sei||you are||siete||you all are|
|è||he/she/it/one is||sono||they are|
io sono I am
tu sei you are (familiar form)
lui è he is
lei è she is
Lei è you are (polite form – note the capital L in ‘Lei’, which indicates the formal and distinguishes it from ‘lei’ – she)
noi siamo we are
voi siete you all are (voi can also be a polite form, rarer in modern Italian but often found in literary texts)
loro sono they are (m.)
loro sono they are (f.)
Loro sono you all are (plural polite form, though rare)
Essere is one of the most common verbs in Italian – commit the conjugation to memory.
*Note: The subject pronoun is normally omitted in Italian whenever it can be understood without ambiguity and is not stressed. The ending of the verb is generally sufficient to indicate the person and number:
Example: Siamo americani. – We are Americans. (Note that the subject pronoun ‘noi’ is omitted, but is implied through the conjugation of the verb ‘siamo’).
The pronoun esso may also mean “it” (referring to masculine nouns), but it is usually omitted. You may also see egli but it is antiquated and not often used in either spoken or written Italian (although it is more common in literary texts or in more formal contexts).
The pronoun essa may also mean “it” (referring to feminine nouns), but it is usually omitted. You may also see ella but it is antiquated and not often used in either spoken or written Italian (although it is more common in literary texts or in more formal contexts).
In present-day Italian, Lei and Loro, meaning ‘you (formal)’ are usually capitalized. They are the normal polite form of address (although Loro is less common). Note that these forms are used with third-person verbs (singular/plural). Therefore, “Di dov’è Lei?” = Where are you from? / “Di dov’è lei?” = Where is she from?
Note that there is no neuter gender in Italian. The pronoun referring to an inanimate object thus has the same grammatical gender as the noun which names the object. In more conversational style, loro is used instead of essi and esse to mean “they,” but when it refers to things (as opposed to people) it is usually omitted.