Unlike English but similar to other Indo-European languages, verbs in Romanian are highly inflective. They conjugate according to mood, tense, voice, person and number. Aspect is not an independent feature in Romanian verbs. Also, gender is only distinct in adjective-like forms of the verb.
There are nine moods into which a verb can be put, with five of them being personal — having a different form for each person — and four non-personal. As an example, the tables below show the verb a face (to do) at all moods, tenses, persons and numbers. Only positive forms in the active voice are given. The corresponding personal pronouns are not included; unlike English verbs, Romanian verbs generally have different forms for each person and number, so that pronouns are most often dropped or only used for emphasis. The English equivalents in the tables (one for each mood and tense) are only an approximative indication of the meaning.
|Mood||Tense||Number and person||English
(only sg. 1st)
|Indicative||Pluperfect||făcusem||făcuseși||făcuse||făcuserăm||făcuserăți||făcuseră||I had done|
|Imperfect||făceam||făceai||făcea||făceam||făceați||făceau||I was doing|
|Compound perfect||am făcut||ai făcut||a făcut||am făcut||ați făcut||au făcut||I did, I have done|
|Simple perfect||făcui||făcuși||făcu||făcurăm||făcurăți||făcură||I have (just) done, I did|
|Future in the past (popular)||aveam să fac||aveai să faci||avea să facă||aveam să facem||aveați să faceți||aveau să facă||I was going to do|
|Present||fac||faci||face||facem||faceți||fac||I do, I am doing|
|Future||voi face||vei face||va face||vom face||veți face||vor face||I will do|
|Future (popular, 1)||am să fac||ai să faci||are să facă||avem să facem||aveți să faceți||au să facă||I'll do|
|Future (popular, 2)||o să fac||o să faci||o să facă||o să facem||o să faceți||o să facă||I'll do|
|Future perfect||voi fi făcut||vei fi făcut||va fi făcut||vom fi făcut||veți fi făcut||vor fi făcut||I will have done|
|Conjunctive||Past||să fi făcut||să fi făcut||să fi făcut||să fi făcut||să fi făcut||să fi făcut||that I did, to have done|
|Present||să fac||să faci||să facă||să facem||să faceți||să facă||that I do, to do|
|Past||aș fi făcut||ai fi făcut||ar fi făcut||am fi făcut||ați fi făcut||ar fi făcut||I would have done|
|Present||aș face||ai face||ar face||am face||ați face||ar face||I would do|
|Presumptive||Past||oi fi făcut||oi fi făcut||o fi făcut||om fi făcut||oți fi făcut||or fi făcut||I might have done|
|Present||oi face||oi face||o face||om face||oți face||or face||I might do|
|Present progressive||oi fi făcând||oi fi făcând||o fi făcând||om fi făcând||oți fi făcând||or fi făcând||I might be doing|
|Imperative||Present||–||fă!||–||–||faceți!||–||do! (2nd person only)|
|Mood||Tense||Verb forms||English equivalent|
|Infinitive||Past||a fi făcut||to have done|
|Present||a face||to do|
|Participle||Past||făcut (sg., masc.)
făcută (sg., fem.)
făcuți (pl., masc.)
făcute (pl., fem.)
|Supine||–||de făcut||(something) to do|
The simple perfect has been replaced by the compound perfect in most of the Romanian varieties; it is commonly used in the Oltenian vernacular (graiul oltenesc) to denote recent actions that still have an impact on the present situation: Mâncai (I have eaten). This usage defies logic and established usage in (for example) Spanish which retains both compound perfect and simple perfect, and which makes a proper distinction between what has just happened (compound perfect) and what is 'historical' (preterite or simple past). The simple perfect is the single most easily recognizable and peculiar particularity of this vernacular.
In the literary standard, the simple perfect is used almost exclusively in writing, in places where the author refers to the characters' actions as they take place. For this reason, the second person is practically never used, while the first person appears only when the writer includes himself among the characters.
It appears that there is a tendency for the imperfect (for example, era', = I was) to be used less 'strictly' than in other Romance languages (such as French, Italian and Spanish) when describing habitual actions/states in the past. When one would expect the imperfect in those other languages, the perfect (simple or otherwise) is sometimes used in Romanian. For example:
English: my father was Romanian
... should in Romance languages (including, in theory, Romanian) require the imperfect. Yet one frequently hears (in this context) instead of the imperfect tatăl meu era român ('my father was Romanian')the perfect: Tatăl meu a fost român (perfect), which would not be 'acceptable' or natural in (for example) French. Indeed a French, Spanish or Italian speaker would wonder if 'my father' simply was Romanian for just a relatively brief period, or even as a single event, with the meaning (at best) of My father used to be Romanian, but he is now something else.
Verbs in the past participle are used invariably in their singular masculine form when they are part of compound tenses (compound perfect, future perfect, past subjunctive, etc.) in the active voice. As part of a verb in the passive voice, the past participle behaves like adjectives, and thus must agree in number and gender with the subject. Examples:
- Active voice: Am făcut curat în casă. (I cleaned the house.)
- Passive voice: Echipa adversǎ a fost fǎcutǎ praf. (The opposing team was laid to waste.)
From an etymologycal point of view, Romanian verbs are categorized into four large conjugation groups depending on the ending in the infinitive mood. This categorization is currently taught in schools.
|I||–a||a da (to give)
a crea (to create)
a veghea (to ward)
|Verbs ending in hiatus ea are included here, as well as verbs ending in -chea and -ghea, due to their first conjugation-like behavior|
|II||–ea||a putea (to be able to, to can do)
a cădea (to fall)
a vedea (to see)
|only when ea is a diphthong (also see above)|
|III||–e||a vinde (to sell)
a crede (to believe)
a alege (to choose)
|IV||–i or –î||a ști (to know)
a veni (to come)
a hotărî (to decide)
Most verbs fall in the first conjugation group with another large number ending in –i (fourth group).
This classification only partially helps in identifying the correct conjugation pattern; each group is further split into smaller classes depending on the actual morphological processes that occur. For example, verbs a cânta (to sing) and a lucra (to work) both belong to the first conjugation group, but their indicative first person singular forms are eu cânt (I sing) and eu lucrez (I work), showing different conjugation mechanisms.
A more appropriate classification, which provides useful information on the actual conjugation pattern, groups all regular verbs into 11 conjugation classes, as shown below.
|Class||Identification||Examples (one from each sound change type)|
|V1||infinitive ending in -a, present indicative without infix||a ajuta, a arăta, a aștepta, a ierta, a toca, a apăra, a îmbrăca, a prezenta, a apăsa, a măsura, a căpăta, a semăna, a pieptăna, a amâna, a intra, a lătra, a apropia, a mângâia, a tăia, a despuia, deochea|
|V2||infinitive ending in -a, present indicative with infix -ez-||a lucra, a studia, împerechea|
|V3||infinitive ending in -i, present indicative singular 3rd person ending in -e||a fugi, a despărți, a ieși, a repezi, a dormi, a muri, a veni, a sui, a îndoi, a jupui|
|V4||infinitive ending in -i, present indicative singular 3rd person ending in -ă||a oferi, a suferi|
|V5||infinitive ending in -i, present indicative singular 3rd person ending in -ește||a povesti, a trăi|
|V6||infinitive ending in -î, present indicative singular 3rd person ending in -ă||a vârî, a coborî|
|V7||infinitive ending in -î, present indicative singular 3rd person ending in -ăște||a hotărî|
|V8||infinitive ending in diphthong -ea||a apărea, a cădea, a ședea, a vedea, a putea|
|V9||infinitive ending in -e, past participle ending in -ut||a pierde, a cere, a crede, a bate, a cunoaște, a coase, a vinde, a ține, a umple|
|V10||infinitive ending in -e, past participle ending in -s||a prinde, a rade, a roade, a plânge, a trage, a merge, a zice, a întoarce, a permite, a scoate, a pune, a rămâne, a purcede, a scrie|
|V11||infinitive ending in -e, past participle ending in -t or -pt||a rupe, a fierbe, a înfrânge, a sparge, a frige, a coace|
Nevertheless, even such a classification does not consider all possible sound alternances. A full classification, considering all combinations of sound changes and ending patterns, contains about seventy types, not including irregular verbs.
There are various kinds of irregularity, such as multiple radicals whose choice is conditioned phonetically or etymologically, and exceptional endings. The following is a list of the most frequent irregular verbs: a avea (to have), a fi (to be), a vrea (to want), a sta (to sit, stand, remain), a da (to give), a azvârli (to throw), a lua (to take), a bea (to drink), a ști (to know), a usca (to dry), a continua (to continue), a mânca (to eat), a face (to do), a zice (to say), a duce (to carry).
- (Romanian) Maria Iliescu et al., Vocabularul minimal al limbii române, Editura Didactică și Pedagogică, 1981
- (Romanian) Valeria Guțu Romalo et al., Gramatica limbii române, Editura Academiei Române, 2005
- In contemporary Romanian there is a tendency towards replacing o să with or să for the plural third person. See Gramatica limbii române, vol. I, p. 441.
- Detailed Romanian grammar with a good section on verbs (PDF, 183 pages, 4.6 MB)
- Verbix.com: Romanian verbs conjugation (Attention: Generally good output, but a few verbs are not conjugated correctly.)
- Castingsnet.com: Romanian ↔ English online dictionary also providing a Romanian verb conjugator (few mistakes)
- DEX online: allows you to look up words in a series of prestigious dictionaries of Romanian; contains a conjugator.