Unlike English but like other Indo-European languages, Romanian verbs are highly inflective. Romanian inherits its verbal conjugation system from Vulgar Latin. Unlike its nouns, Romanian verbs behave in a similar way to those of other Romance languages such as French, Spanish, and Italian. They conjugate according to mood, tense, voice, person and number. Aspect is not an independent feature in Romanian verbs, although it does manifest itself clearly in the contrast between the imperfect and the compound perfect tenses as well as within the presumptive mood. Also, gender is not distinct except in the past participle tense, in which the verb behaves like an adjective.
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 pronouns are most often dropped except 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|
|Subjunctive||Past||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||o fi făcut||om fi făcut||oți fi făcut||or fi făcut||I might have done|
|Present||oi face||o face||om face||oți face||or face||I might do|
|Present progressive||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 affect the present situation: Mâncai (I have eaten). In the literary standard, the simple perfect is used almost exclusively in writing, where the author refers to the characters' actions as they take place. For that reason, the second person is practically never used, whereas the first person appears only when the writer includes himself among the characters.
In Romanian, the compound perfect is often used where other Romance languages would use the imperfect. For example, the English sentence My father was Romanian requires the imperfect when translated into languages like French and Italian, whereas in this context in Romanian the compound perfect form Tatăl meu a fost român is frequently used instead of the imperfect Tatăl meu era român.
Verbs in the past participle are used 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:
- Active voice: Am făcut curat în casă. (I cleaned the house.)
- Passive voice: Echipa adversă a fost făcută 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, and this is the verb classification that 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, 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), which shows 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, or 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 third person plural.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.