Questions?

Check our FAQs for the quickest support.

FAQ

Did not find your answer?
Contact us

Absolute past tense (passato remoto) in Italian

Our teachers

Looking for a language tutor? Contact one of our teachers!

Find a teacher

The passato remoto is a simple tense that belongs to the indicative mood.

Definition and usage of the absolute past in Italian (passato remoto)

The passato remoto is used to refer to an action that took place and was concluded in the distant past. It has no links to the present, neither chronologically nor psychologically.

Example:

  • L'Italia vinse in suo primo mondiale di calcio nel 1934 (Italy won its first Football World Cup in 1934)
  • La Prima Guerra Mondiale iniziò nel 1914 (The First World War began in 1914)

enlightenedNowadays the passato remoto is not frequently used. Its use depends on the geographic area of the speaker.
In the South of Italy, people may use the passato remoto to refer to events that took place in the recent past.
In the North of Italy people may use the passato prossimo to refer to events that took place in the distant past.

Have a question?

Take online language lessons with a professional teacher

  1. Native & verified teachers
  2. Free trial lesson
  3. Learning materials included

Marker words that indicate the passato remoto

Here is a list of marker words that can be found with the passato remoto.

Example:

  • Dieci anni fa visitai la Finlandia (Ten years ago I visited Finland)
  • Da piccolo mi ruppi una spalla (When I was a child I broke my shoulder)
ExampleTranslation
Da piccolo/quando ero piccoloWhen I was little/a child
1/5/10 anni fa1/5/10 years ago
L'anno scorsoLast year
Molto tempo faA long time ago
Nel 1300/1500/1900In 1300/1500/1900

 

Conjugation of the passato remoto

The passato remoto is formed as follows:

Conjugation of regular verbs in the passato remoto

The passato remoto is formed by adding a certain ending to the root of the verb.
The endings depend on the conjugation the verb belongs to.

Verbs that belong to the -are conjugation

These verbs add the endings -ai, -asti, -ò, -ammo, -aste, -arono to the root of the verb.

Example amare (to love)

 RootEndingExampleTranslation
IoamaiIo amai quel libroI loved that book
TuamastiTu amsti quel libroYou loved that book
Egli/EllaamòEgli amò quel libroHe lived that book
NoiamammoNoi amammo quel libroWe loved that book
VoiamasteVoi amaste quel libroYou loved that book
Essi/EsseamaronoEssi amarono quel libroThey loved that book

 

Verbs that belong to the -ere conjugation

These verbs add the endings -ei/etti, -esti, -é/ette, -emmo, -este, -erono/ettero to the root of the verb.

Example temere (to fear)

 RootEndingExampleTranslation
Iotemei/etti*Io temei/temetti di aver perso le chiaviI feared I had lost my keys
TutemestiTu temesti di aver perso le chiaviYou feared you had lost your keys
Egli/Ellatemé/ette*Egli temé/temette di aver perso le chiaviHe feared he had lost his keys
NoitememmoNoi tememmo di aver perso le chiaviWe feared we had lost our keys
VoitemesteVoi temeste di aver perso le chiaviYou feared you had lost your keys
Essi/Essetemerono/ettero*Essi temerono/temettero di aver perso le chiaviThey feared they had lost their keys

 

enlightened*Some verbs such as temere (to fear), battere (to beat), ricevere (to receive) have both a regular conjugation and an alternative one. So both the following sentences are correct:
e.g. Io ricevei una mail (I received an e-mail)
Io ricevetti una mail (I received an e-mail)

 

Verbs that belong to the -ire conjugation

These verbs add the endings -ii, -isti, -ì, -immo, -iste, -irono to the root of the verb.

Example servire (to serve)

 RootEndingExampleTranslation
IoserviiIo servii i pasti al ristoranteI served meals in the restaurant
TuservistiTu servisti i pasti al ristoranteYou served meals in the restaurant
Egli/EllaservìEgli servì i pasti al ristoranteHe served meals in the restaurant
NoiservimmoNoi servimmo i pasti al ristoranteWe served meals in the restaurant
VoiservisteVoi serviste i pasti al ristoranteYou served meals in the restaurant
Essi/EsseservironoEssi servirono i pasti al ristoranteThey served meals in the restaurant

 

Conjugation of irregular verbs in the passato remoto

Irregular verbs in the passato remoto are numerous and they mainly belong to the -ere conjugation.
These verbs have to be studied by heart, but there are a few tips and rules that can help you to learn these verbs:

  1. In order to conjugate some of these verbs it is important to know the participio passato (past participle).
  2. The conjugation of the verbs usually changes for the first and third person singular (io and egli/ella) and for the third person plural (essi/esse).
  3. The conjugation for the second person singular (tu), the first and second person plural (noi and voi) is the same as the one of regular verbs.
  4. As already stated in the previous attention box, remember that some verbs add an alternative conjugation to the regular one.
  5. Verbs whose infinitive ends with -gliere (togliere - to remove/to take off), -ndere (scendere - to get off/to descend) and -gere or -ggere (spargere - to spread, leggere - to read) usually form the passato remoto adding the ending -si at the first person singular (io). See the conjugation of scendere as an example.
  6. Some verbs such as bere (to drink) and tenere (to keep) double the last consonant of the verb root. See the conjugation of bere as an example. 

Example scendere (to get off/to descend)

The participio passato of scendere is SCESO.

 Passato remotoExampleTranslation
IoscesiIo scesi dal pullman una volta arrivato in piazzaWhen I got to the square, I got off the bus
TuscendestiTu scendesti dal pullman una volta arrivato in piazzaWhen you got to the square, you got off the bus
Egli/EllasceseEgli scese dal pullman una volta arrivato in piazzaWhen he got to the square, he got off the bus
NoiscendemmoNoi scendemmo dal pullman una volta arrivati in piazzaWhen we got to the square, we got off the bus
VoiscendesteVoi scendeste dal pullman una volta arrivati in piazzaWhen you got to the square, we got off the bus
Essi/EssesceseroEssi scesero dal pullman una volta arrivati in piazzaWhen they got to the square, they got off the bus

 

Here you can find a list of the main irregular verbs:

 Bere (to drink)Chiedere (to ask)Chiudere (to close)Correre (to run)Cuocere (to cook)Crescere (to grow)Dipingere (to paint)Nascere (to bear/ to be born)Rompere (to break)Venire (to come)
Iobevvi/bevettichiesichiusicorsicossicrebbidipinsinacquiruppivenni
Tubevestichiedestichiudesticorrestic(u)ocesticrescestidipingestinascestirompestivenisti
Egli/Ellabevve/bevettechiesechiusecorsecossecrebbedipinsenacqueruppevenne
Noibevemmochiedemmochiudemmocorremmoc(u)ocemmocrescemmodipingemmonascemmorompemmovenimmo
Voibevestechiedestechiudestecorrestec(u)ocestecrescestedipingestenascesterompesteveniste
Essi/Essebevvero/bevetterochieserochiuserocorserocosserocrebberodipinseronacquerorupperovennero

 

Auxiliary verbs: essere/avere

Auxiliary verbs are irregular verbs so their conjugation has to be studied by heart.

 Essere (to be)Avere (to have)
Iofuiebbi
Tufostiavesti
Egli/Ellafuebbe
Noifummoavemmo
Voifosteaveste
Essi/Essefuronoebbero

 

Now try our exercises to test your knowledge!


Exercises

  1. Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the passato remoto
  2. Choose the correct tense: passato prossimo or passato remoto

Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the passato remoto


Choose the correct tense: passato prossimo or passato remoto


What our students say

Unlike in other platforms, all our teachers are manually verified by our professional team. Trust in the experiences of our students.
4.97/5
Hands down one of the best teachers I've had the pleasure of working with. Very knowledgeable in all aspects of Bulgarian (grammar rules, expressions, ...) but also in both English and French, which helps whenever you have a more in-depth question on the how or why something is the way it is in Bulgarian. Furthermore he has his own material and always comes prepared, but he is equally open to changing the subject of a lesson to suit your needs. He is patient, positive and not too scholarly, which is what you need as an adult learning day- to- day Bulgarian.I have been working with him for 18 months now and still look forward to our lessons every week.
An's Bulgarian has tremendously improved since she gave it go a year and a half ago. Of course, It goes without saying that I am pleased to work with such an enthusiastic learner who is living proof that, through hard work and perseverance, everyone can succeed in their language goals. An, you are now an independant user of the language who is able to successfully lead real-live conversations. Pat yourself on the back.
5/5
Elena is an excellent teacher and a very nice person. I have been training in Spanish with Elena for quite some time now after her being recommended to me by a friend, and have consistently been very pleased with our lessons. While I do not consider myself to be very good at learning foreign languages, Elena is very patient and adapts the lessons to my ability, making me feel at ease. In fact, I find her to be extremely skilled at assessing exactly where I am at any given time with respect to my individual learning situation, and structuring the lessons accordingly. I think I probably would have given up trying to learn Spanish had I not began my study with Elena; and that would have been a shame considering where I am now with the language. Because of Elena's skilled help, I am extremely pleased to not only be conversant in basic Spanish, but also have confidence that I will one day reach full proficiency with the language. No other learning method I tried before meeting Elena compares to the one-on-one, personalized instruction I receive from her, which comprises reading; writing; developmental exercises; and most importantly, conversation. To be able to look at Spanish now and have it appear largely familiar is extremely satisfying. I even plan to study Italian with Elena after reaching my desired level in Spanish. These are not things I ever imagined would occur at the beginning stages of my studies. I am a native English speaker and find Elena's English to be excellent. She had no difficulty instructing me from the very beginning levels where it was necessary that a lot of English be spoken in our lessons, to where we are now with much less English being spoken. The friend who recommended Elena to me learned Dutch from her, and is equally pleased with their experience. I would not hesitate to learn from Elena any of the languages she teaches. I give Elena my highest recommendations and thank her for all the help she has provided me.
Thank you for your feedback, Brandon! I am very happy to know that you are so satisfied with the lessons. I've always believed that you could make it and I am glad that we never gave it up. The right attitude and a high level of perseverance have been the keys to your success. It has been a pleasure to be your guide in your learning process. I know that you can do much more, so let's continue towards a next level!
5/5
Again a lesson full of fun anf full of learning opportunities. I really like Angels patience and ability to adapt to my learning process.
This student is one of the best ones I ever had in my long teaching career. She is always so diligent and willing to learn more and more. I am so happy to work with her and see the immense progress she has made since we first started working together. Thank you Silke!
5/5
I would highly recommend Tove. Her lessons are fantastic and I learn exactly what I'm interested in. Tove is very friendly, our chemistry goes well together and I really enjoy being tought by her.
Dear Anita, Thank you very much for your nice review! I enjoy our lessons very much too and I am so happy that our communication and chemistry fit well together. That's the best precondition for a good learning experience. See you soon!
5/5
We are an Italian family residing in France for 3 months, we have two 10 year old children who have just started attending CM1. We asked Natalia to give the children two lessons a week to speed up their learning. We are super happy with the choice. Nous sommes une famille italienne résidant en France depuis janvier, nous avons deux enfants de 10 ans qui viennent de commencer la CM1. Nous avons demandé à Natalia de leur donner deux leçons par semaine pour accélérer leur apprentissage. Nous sommes super contents de Natalia. We are an Italian family living in France since 3 months, we have two 10 year old children who have just started attending CM1. We asked Natalia to give the kids two lessons a week to speed up their learning. We are super happy with this choice.
Translated by Google Translate
Fabrizio's children are learning French very fast, I have the impression that these lessons online have been helpful for them and I am sure they will master the language easily. They are very interested in learning.
5/5
Daniela is a very pleasant and brisk teacher who has the talent to make you feel at ease immediately. Her lessons are a nice mix of conversation and theory. Again and again it is a nice hour to look forward to !! Thank you Daniela !!
Translated by Google Translate
Dear Hilde, thank you very much for your words. I'm glad you are satisfied with our time together. I will continue to do my best to make you practice your beautiful Italian in a cheerful and peaceful way :-)
Translated by Google Translate
5/5
It is always a pleasure to have English lessons with Corinne. The lessons are always a lot of fun and extremely interesting concerning on current affairs and unfortunately the time always ends too early. Very recommended.
Thank you, Danilo. It is always a pleasure having lessons with you and I have enjoyed our many conversations together. And what a joy that over time they have become easier for both of us to understand! :D
5/5
Carmen is really prepared and very very nice. She takes you by the hand and introduces you to portuguese language in a really pleasant way. I learned 3-4 sentences already on the first lesson!
Fabia is a very nice student and learns very quickly. It is a pleasure to teach her as she really likes to learn a difficult language like Portuguese and improved a lot.
5/5
It was very nice to take a lesson from Theano (Anny). She is adaptable to the student's level and is prepared to help the student as necessary. She is a friendly and caring teacher!
Σ' ευχαριστώ πολύ Μέγκαν! I'm glad you had a good experience and that you enjoyed it. Your excitment about learning greek motivates me even more :)
5/5
Marissa is a very professional teacher who can put the student at ease. It is precise, effective and oriented towards achieving the objectives: highly recommended.
Translated by Google Translate
Thanks so much Paola!!! I LOVE working with you guys and have enjoyed every moment. Even after this brief period, we can already start to see some changes. :-)
5/5
I have had many lessons with Luisa and I always look forward to them. We begin by chatting about the past week's events and them move to Espresso which I find very useful as a good review of material I have done in the past. There is often additional words used I had not met before. Luisa is always a pleasure to talk with and is a kind and pleasant teacher. She corrects me gently and offers useful words or meanings when appropriate.
Dear Martin thank you so much ! It's my pleasure taking class with you. And thanks a lot for your suggestion about Us movies ( Just Mercy) or Us books
5/5
I had my first lesson a couple of days ago and everything went super good! Karin was attentive, transmiting her positivism and helping me with every doubt I had. She really focus on teaching how to pronounce and talk a language, so this is really interesting for me, to practise it & be able to use it in my day by day. I really recommend her to everyone willing to learn a new language :)
Hi Alba! Thank you so much for your wonderful review! I enjoyed our class too & I wish you the best of luck with all your future projects :-)
5/5
A prepared and kind teacher, ready to teach with patience and good humor. He provided me with very useful materials to study and review even after the lesson. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn a language with a smile. Thanks Silvia :)
Translated by Google Translate
Thank you so much for the Chiara review! It was a real pleasure to have this lesson with you. I wish you a nice trip with the German language!
Translated by Google Translate
5/5
The lesson with Celia was perfect! She was puntcual, kind and her teaching method is effective and funny. She started the class with some "games" to get to know eachother and then we discussed about an article she provided. The time of the class passed really fast and I learned new vocabulary. Absolutely raccomended.
Thank you so much, Remark! I´m happy to know you enjoyed our lesson and I´m looking forward to having more in the near future! Cheers!
5/5
Ekaterina writes new words and sentences learnt during the lesson. She has got a very nice attitude and great accent! A pleasure to work with... yes, even in German!!!!!
Dear Silvia, thank you very much for your feedback! It's a real pleasure to have classes with you, and I hope you find them useful!
5/5