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Present perfect (passato prossimo) in Italian

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The present perfect (passato prossimo) belongs to the indicative mood.

Definition and usage of the present perfect in Italian (passato prossimo)

The passato prossimo is one of the most used compound past tenses in Italian. It is used to express:

  1. an action that took place in the recent past.
  2. an action that took place in the past but that still has ties to the present

Example:

  • Ieri ho guardato un film (Yesterday I watched a movie)
  • Sono stato in Portogallo tre volte (I have been to Portugal three times)

enlightenedIn Northern Italy people tend to always use the passato prossimo.
      In Southern Italy people tend to use the passato remoto (absolute past) more.

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Marker words that refer to the passato prossimo

Marker words that indicate the passato prossimo are:

ExampleTranslation
IeriYesterday
Ieri mattina/pomeriggio/seraYesterday morning/afternoon/evening
Due minuti/ore/giorni faTwo minutes/hours/days ago
Questa mattinaThis morning
PrimaBefore
GiàAlready
AppenaJust

Example: 

  • Ieri sera ho mangiato la pizza (Yesterday evening I ate pizza).
  • Ho appena finito i compiti (I have just finished my homework).

Conjugation of the passato prossimo

Passato prossimo is formed by two verbs:

  1. Present indicative of the auxiliary verb (essere or avere),
  2. Past participle* of the main verb.

*enlightenedPast participle is important because regular and irregular verbs have different forms.

Passato prossimo of regular verbs in Italian

In order to conjugate the present perfect in Italian, it is important to know how the past participle is formed.

Regular verbs always form the past participle by adding the endings -ato, -uto, -ito to the root. 
Here you can find a helping chart:

 VerbRootEnding
-are conjugation

Parlare (to speak)

Giocare (to play)

parl

gioc

ato

ato

-ere conjugation

Vendere (to sell)

Sapere (to know)

vend

sap

uto

uto

-ire conjugation

Finire (to finish)

Sentire (to feel/listen/hear)

fin

sent

ito

ito

 

Let's now conjugate the regular verbs parlare, vendere and finire in the passato prossimo tense:

Verbs that belong to the -are conjugation

Here is the conjugation of the verb parlare:

Example parlare (to speak)

 Auxiliary verbPast participleExampleTranslation
IohoparlatoIo ho parlato con Maria ieriI spoke to Maria yesterday
TuhaiparlatoTu hai parlato con Maria ieriYou spoke to Maria yesterday
Egli/EllahaparlatoEgli ha parlato con Maria ieriHe spoke to Maria yesterday
NoiabbiamoparlatoNoi abbiamo parlato con Maria ieriWe spoke to Maria yesterday
VoiaveteparlatoVoi avete parlato con Maria ieriYou spoke to Maria yesterday
Essi/EssehannoparlatoEssi hanno parlato con Maria ieriThey spoke to Maria yesterday

 

Verbs that belong to the -ere conjugation

Here is the conjugation of the verb vendere:

Example vendere (to sell)

 Auxiliary verbPast participleExampleTranslation
IohovendutoIo ho venduto dei pomodoriI sold some tomatoes
TuhaivendutoTu hai venduto dei pomodoriYou sold some tomatoes
Egli/EllahavendutoEgli ha venduto dei pomodoriHe sold some tomatoes
NoiabbiamovendutoNoi abbiamo venduto dei pomodoriWe sold some tomatoes
VoiavetevendutoVoi avete venduto dei pomodoriYou sold some tomatoes
Essi/EssehannovendutoEssi hanni venduto dei pomodoriThey sold some tomatoes

 

Verbs that belong to the -ire conjugation

Here is the conjugation of the verb finire:

Example finire (to finish)

 Auxiliary verbPast participleExampleTranslation
IohofinitoIo ho finito i compitiI finished the homework
TuhaifinitoTu hai finito i compitiYou finished the homework
Egli/EllahafinitoEgli ha finito i compitiHe finished the homework
NoiabbiamofinitoNoi abbiamo finito i compitiWe finished the homework
VoiavetefinitoVoi avete finito i compitiYou finished the homework
Essi/EssehannofinitoEssi hanno finito i compitiThey finished the homework

 

Passato prossimo of irregular verbs in Italian

Let's now briefly see how the past participle of irregular verbs is formed.
Unlike regular verbs, irregular verbs do not follow grammatical rules to form the past participle. These verbs have to be studied by heart.
Here is a list of the main irregular forms of the past participle:

InfinitePast participle
Aprire (to open)Aperto
Correre (to run)Corso
Rimanere (to remain)Rimasto
Apparire (to appear)Apparso
Chiudere (to close)Chiuso
Chiedere (to ask)Chiesto
Dire (to say)Detto
Prendere (to take)Preso
Leggere (to read)Letto
Perdere (to lose)Perso
Vedere (to see)Visto

 

Example: 

  • Tu hai letto due libri in due mesi (You have read two books in two months)
  • Noi abbiamo chiesto informazioni all'ufficio turistico (We asked for some information at the tourist office)
  • Mia nonna ha aperto la porta (My grandmother opened the door)

The passato prossimo of transitive and intransitive verbs (avere or essere?)

As you already know, transitive verbs can be followed by an object.
e.g. Tu canti una canzone (You sing a song)
Intransitive verbs cannot be followed by an object.
e.g. Luca ride (Luca laughs)

All transitive verbs use the auxiliary verbs "avere" to form the passato prossimo.

  • Io ho mangiato la pizza (I ate pizza)
  • Voi avete suonato la chitarra (You played the guitar)

The majority of intransitive verbs use the auxiliary verb "essere" to form the passato prossimo.

  • Noi siamo andati al cinema ieri (We went to the cinema last night)
  • Marco e Marta sono partiti due ore fa (Marco and Marta left two hours ago)

enlightenedWhen the passato prossimo if formed with the auxiliary verb "essere", the past participle must agree with the gender and number of the subject.
e.g:   Giulia è andata a casa (Giulia went home)
          Edoardo è andato a casa (Edoardo went home)
          Edoardo e Giulia sono andati a casa (Edoardo and Giulia went home)

 

Auxiliary verbs: essere/avere

Here is how the auxiliary verbs essere and avere form the passato prossimo:

 EssereAvere
Iosono stato/aho avuto
Tusei stato/ahai avuto
Egli/Ellaè stato/aha avuto
Noisiamo stati/eabbiamo avuto
Voisiete stati/eavete avuto
Essi/Essesono stati/ihanno avuto

 

Example:

  • Lucia ha avuto un figlio tre giorni fa (Lucia had a baby three days ago)
  • Mara è stata a casa mia ieri (Mara was at my house yesterday)

Now don't forget to try our exercises to test what you have learned!


Exercises

  1. Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the passato prossimo
  2. Choose the correct form of the auxiliary verb

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


Choose the correct form of the auxiliary verb


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