The Italian Verb Provare (To Attempt, To Try, To Prove)- A Complete Guide On Meaning, Usage and Conjugation

What does provare mean in Italian

Written by Federica  in Italian language

The meaning of provare

The verb provare in Italian means, primarily, to try, and can be used in many different ways as to attempt, to try something out, to test, to try on (e.g. clothes), to taste, to prove, to put to the test, to feel (of a feeling or sensation) and finally, in a more limited sense, to rehearse.

What conjugation does provare belong to?

Provare belongs to the first Italian conjugation. The infinitive form ends in -are (provare), the participle form ends in -ato (provato) and the gerund ends in -ando (provando).

Is provare regular or irregular?

Provare is a regular verb, meaning that its verb endings vary throughout the conjugation consistently with standard regular verb endings. So, if you know how to conjugate regular first-conjugation Italian verbs, you will also be able to conjugate provare.

Does provare use an essere or avere auxiliary?

Italian compound tenses such as the present perfect (passato prossimo) require the main verb to be preceded by an auxiliary, essere or avere

In compound tenses, provare takes the avere auxiliary (for example ho provato a telefonare – I tried to phone).

When provare means to try on, it can also be used reflexively (provarsi). Like other Italian verbs, when used reflexively, provare wants an essere auxiliary (for example, mi sono provata la maglietta nuova – I tried on the new t-shirt).

Provare can be both a transitive verb, meaning that it takes an object (for example, sto provando una nuova marca di te’ – I’m trying a new brand of tea) and an intransitive verb, which makes sense on its own (for example, proviamo – let’s try).

Uses of provare

Provare is a very versatile verb which can have many meanings. Here are the ways in which you can use it:

  • Proviamo! – Let’s try
  • Hai provato a cambiare la routine? – have you tried changing the routine?
  • Deve provare a mangiare meglio – he/ she must try to eat better
  • Hai provato la nuova bicicletta? – have you tried out the new bike?
  • Prova questo gusto di gelato – taste this ice-cream flavour
The Italian verb provare
How to use the Italian verb provare: prova questo gusto di gelato (taste this ice-cream flavour)
  • Posso provartelo – I can prove it to you
  • Mi sono provata il vestito ed era troppo stretto – I tried the dress on and it was too tight
  • Quando è finalmente arrivata a casa era molto provata – when she finally got home she was very worn out
  • Nella chiesa c’è il coro che sta provando i canti per la domenica – the choir are in the church rehearsing the songs for Sunday
  • Hanno provato molto dolore quando si sono trasferiti lontani dai genitori – they suffered a lot of pain when they moved far away from their parents

Provare is often followed by the preposition a + a verb in the infinitive, to say what you are trying. For example:

  • Proviamo ad accorciarlo di due centimetri – let’s try to shorten it by two centimetres
  • Provo a vedere se sono tornati – I’ll try to see if they’re back

Italian set phrases with provare

One set way to use provare in Italian is followed by a -ci (provarci) to mean to try it on:

  • Negli anni dell’ adolescenza ci provava con tutte – in his teenage years he used to try it on with everyone

Provarci also means simply to try it, so use context to guide you in identifying the correct meaning:

  • Se proprio vuoi, possiamo provarci – if you really want to, we can try (it)

Synonyms of provare

The verb provare has different synonyms, depending on its original meaning.

  • When provare means to try/ to attempt, its closest synonym is tentare
  • When provare means to try out, its closest synonym is testare
  • When provare means to feel, its closest synonym is sentire
  • When provare means to prove, you can use dimostrare as a closely-related alternative

A popular noun related to provare is prova (a test/ a go). For example you could say:

  • Facciamo una prova – let’s give it a go (literally “let’s do a go”)

The word provino, also related to prova (and found in the provare subjunctive conjugation) is an audition.

  • Ha fatto molti provini, ma non ne ha vinto neanche uno – he/ she did many audition but didn’t win a single one
The Italian word provino
How to use the Italian word provino (audition): ha fatto molti provini ma non ne ha vinto neanche uno (he/ she did many auditions but didn’t win a single one)

The complete conjugation of provare

In the table below you can see the complete conjugation of provare in all tenses and moods.

Present indicativeprovoproviprovaproviamoprovateprovano
Present perfect indicativeho provatohai provatoha provatoabbiamo provatoavete provatohanno provato
Imperfect indicativeprovavoprovaviprovavaprovavamoprovavateprovavano
Past perfect indicativeavevo provatoavevi provatoaveva provatoavevamo provatoavevate provatoavevano provato
Remote past indicativeprovai provasti provòprovammoprovasteprovarono
Preterite perfect indicativeebbi provatoavesti provatoebbe provatoavemmo provatoaveste provatoebbero provato
Simple future indicativeproveròproveraiproveràproveremoprovereteproveranno
Future perfect indicativeavrò provatoavrai provatoavrà provatoavremo provatoavrete provatoavranno provato
Present conditionalprovereiproverestiproverebbeproveremmoproveresteproverebbero
Past perfect conditionalavrei provatoavresti provatoavrebbe provatoavremmo provatoavreste provatoavrebbero provato
Present gerundprovandoprovandoprovandoprovandoprovandoprovando
Past gerundavendo provatoavendo provatoavendo provatoavendo provatoavendo provatoavendo provato
Present subjunctiveproviproviproviproviamoproviateprovino
Present perfect subjunctiveabbia provatoabbia provatoabbia provatoabbiamo provatoabbiate provatoabbiano provato
Imperfect subjunctiveprovassiprovassiprovasseprovassimoprovasteprovassero
Past perfect subjunctiveavessi provatoavessi provatoavesse provatoavessimo provatoaveste provatoavessero provato
Table showing the complete conjugation of the verb provare in all Italian tenses