Modal Verbs Volere, Potere, Dovere. Conjugation

Modal Verbs Volere, Potere, Dovere. Conjugation

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Welcome to our Italian grammar course for beginners! Today we're going to talk about the most important modal verbs.

Modal verbs express various degrees of ability, necessity, or possibility. You need to use them if you want to express ability, obligation, possibility, politeness, making requests and offers. You will also use them if you give recommendations or advices.

Italian modal verbs are usually followed by a verb in the infinitive form. The conjugation of the modal verb depends on the subject pronoun and should match in tense and person. Let's talk in detail about the most common modal verbs.

Dovere - Must, Should

Here's an overview of its conjugation in the Present Tense:

Subject + Dovere (It.) Must (Eng.)
Io devo I must
Tu devi You must
Lui / Lei deve He/She/It must
Noi dobbiamo We must
Voi dovete You must
Loro devono They must

Dovere is used to express necessity, obligation, or duty. Examples:
Deve studiare per l'esame. (He must study for the exam.)
Devono mangiare più verdure. (They have to eat more vegetables.)

Potere - Can

Here's an overview of its conjugation in the Present tense:

Subject + Potere (It.) Can (Eng.)
Io posso I can
Tu puoi You can
Lui / Lei può He/She/It can
Noi possiamo We can
Voi potete You can
Loro possono They can

Potere indicates capability, possibility, or permission. Examples:
Puoi parlare inglese. (You can speak English.)
Possiamo uscire con gli amici al cinema. (We can go out with friends to the cinema.)

Volere - Want

Here's an overview of its conjugation in the Present tense:

Subject Volere (It.) Want (Eng.)
Io voglio I want
Tu vuoi You want
Lui / Lei vuole He/She/It wants
Noi vogliamo We want
Voi volete You want
Loro vogliono They want

Volere expresses desire, intention, or determination. Examples:
Vuole imparare a suonare la chitarra. (He wants to learn how to play the guitar.)
Vogliamo venire al cinema. (We want to come to the cinema.)


In this lesson you learned about basic Italian phrasal verbs (dovere - must, potere - can, volere - want). These verbs are very important, so it makes sense to memorize them. We are waiting for you in the next lesson, where we will talk about asking questions in Italian. Good luck!