Tempo Passato : Italian Past Tense

Italian uses two past tenses to describe actions that happened in the past, L’imperfetto (the imperfect tense) and Passato Prossimo (the perfect tense).

 

 

L’IMPERFETTO

This tense is used to describe actions that continued in the past over a period of time or occurred multiple times. In Italian this tense is formed by a single verb while in English it is formed by two verbs, an auxiliary verb and the past participle.

Ascoltavo la radio. I was listening to the radio.

Pensavo a te. I was thinking about you.

Guidavo la macchina quando ho sentito la scuilla del cellulare. I was driving a car when I heard cell phone ring.

The majority of the verbs have regular forms in Imperfetto with only few verbs being irregular.

 

REGULAR VERBS

The tense is formed by each verb group –are, -ere, -ire adding standard endings to the stem.

 

Studiare

to study

Mangiare

to eat

Partire

to leave

IoStudiavoMangiavoPartivo
TuStudiaviMangiaviPartivi
Lui/LeiStudiavaMangiavaPartiva
NoiStudiavamoMangiavamoPartivamo
VoiStudiavateMangiavatePartivate
LoroStudiavanoMangiavanoPartivano

 

IRREGULAR VERBS

There are only few verbs which have irregular forms in the Imperfetto. Memorizing them is the best study approach. Please pay special attention to the verb essere – to be as it is a frequently used verb.

 

ESSERE

To be

Fare

To make

Dire

To tell

Bere

To drink

Porre

To put /place

Verbs ending in durre
erofacevodicevobevevoponevo-ducevo
erifacevidicevibeveviponevi-ducevi
erafacevadicevabevevaponeva-duceva
eravamofacevamodicevamobevevamoponevamo-ducevamo
eravatefacevatedicevatebevevateponevate-ducevate
eranofacevanodicevanobevevanoponevano-ducevano

 

Last column represents all verbs ending in –durre like produrre and ridurre. All these verbs follow pattern as shown in the last column in table above.

 

PASSATO PROSSIMO

This tense is used to describe an action that happened at a particular point in the past. In Italian this tense is formed by an auxiliary verb and a past participle of the main verb, while in English it is formed by one verb.

Ho ricevuto la telefonata. I received a phone call.

Ho studiato la matematica. I studied math.

Ho parlato con il mio amico. I talked to my friend.

Past participle of the verb is formed by adding standard endings to the stems.

 

Infinitive

Infinito

Past Participle

Particilio Passato

parlare

andare

parlato

andato

vedere

sedere

veduto

seduto

finire

pulire

finito

pulito

 

Both avere and essere are used as the auxiliary verbs. The choice between the two verbs is made based on the past participle of the verb. Past participle can be formed by either transitive or intransitive verb.

 

TRANSITIVE VERBS

Transitive verbs include all verbs with the exception of motion and reflexive verbs. Transitive verbs use avere as auxiliary verbs. Listed below are some examples of the transitive verbs are:

 

Infinitive

infinito

Meaning

significa

Auxiliary Verb

Verbo ausiliario

Past Participle

Participio passato

aprireto openhoaperto
mettereto puthomesso
prendereto takehopreso
rispondereto answerhorisposto
smettereto stophosmesso
vivereto livehovissuto

 

Ho ricevuto il messaggio. I received a message.

Ho parlato con il professore. I talked to a professor.

 

INTRANSITIVE VERBS

Intransitive verbs include all motion and reflexive verbs. Intransitive verbs require essere as the auxiliary verb and the past participle agrees with the subject of the verb.

 

Infinitive

infinito

Meaning

significa

Auxiliary Verb

Verbo ausiliario

Past Participle

Participio passato

andareto gosonoandato/andata
partireto leavesietepartiti
salireto get intosonoSaliti/salite
scendereto get out ofSeisceso/scesa
venireto comesiamovenuti

 

(Answers to exercise on Future Tense)

Esercizio :  ecco i verbi coniugati al futuro

  1. Tu ………………diventerai……………….. (diventare) molto bella.
  2. Gli studenti non …………vorranno………… (volere) studiare la lezione
  3. Loro non …………saranno……………… (essere) interessati
  4. Io …………preferiro’…………………… (preferire) mangiare la pizza
  5. A me non …………piacera’…………………… (piacere)
  6. Giovanni …………vestira’……………… (vestire ) in modo elegante
  7. Paolo ……………andra’………… (andare) al concerto
  8. Noi………suoneremo……………… (suonare) in un gruppo rock
  9. Noi …………cucineremo………(cucinare) gli spaghetti al pomodoro
  10. Io ……andro’……………(andare) a trovare Luigi.

 

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