Questions?

Check our FAQs for the quickest support.

FAQ

Did not find your answer?
Contact us

Past perfect subjunctive (trapassato congiuntivo)

Our teachers

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

Find a teacher

What is the trapassato congiuntivo in Italian? 

The past perfect subjunctive (or trapassato congiuntivo) is the the last tense of the subjunctive mood in Italian.

Have a question?

Take online language lessons with a professional teacher

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

Where and how to use the past perfect subjunctive in Italian

The trapassato congiuntivo appears in the same contexts in which both other subjunctive tenses appear.

Indeed, it is used in independent and dependent (i.e. final, concessive, conditional, relative and temporal) clauses to convey:

  • doubtshypotheseswishes and orders;
  • objective or personal considerations about something.
ExampleTranslation
Sembrava dubitare che Giovanni fosse andato alla festa.She seemed to suspect that Giovanni hadn't ever gone to the party.
Se tu fossi stato più attento, non avresti fatto nessun incidente.If you had been more careful, you would have never had any accident.
Sebbene tu non avessi detto nulla, qualcuno ha dubitato di te.Even though you haven't said anything, someone suspected you.

 

If clause (periodo ipotetico) in Italian with past perfect subjunctive

As it's worth for the imperfect tense of the subjunctive, the past perfect's main function is to convey hypothetical messages.

When Italian speakers use the past perfect subjunctive, they want to express hypothesis referring to a past event.

Conversely to the imperfect subjunctive, if you use the past perfect subjunctive you are going to suppose that an unreal and nearly impossible event will happen.

 

How to use the past perfect subjunctive in the Italian hypothetical clauses

The most important thing to remember to form the periodo ipotetico is that: if the main clause has a past conditional verb, the dependent clause will have the past perfect subjunctive.

Let's see some examples:

Dependent clause (protasis): trapassato congiuntivoMain clause (apodosis): condizionale passato
Se ella non fosse stata spaventata, (If she hadn't been scared)sarebbe stata contenta. (she would have been very pleased)
Se noi non avessimo parlato di lui, (If we hadn't talked about him)probabilmente non sarebbe successo nulla. (probably nothing would ever happened)

 

enlightened The hypothetical sentences of irreality (with past tenses) must be always expressed by the conditional mood in the main clause and the subjunctive in the dependent clause.

 

How to conjugate the past perfect subjunctive in Italian

The congiuntivo trapassato follows the same complex structure of the congiuntivo passato.

Hence, it is formed using the imperfect subjunctive of the auxiliary (essere or avere) with the past participle of the specific verb.

Let's see some example for the three conjugations.

 

Regular verbs in Italian past perfect subjunctive

Verbs of -are conjugation

Incontrare (to meet)
 AuxiliaryPast ParticipleExampleTranslation
(Che) ioavessiincontratoSe io non la avessi mai incontrata, sarei rimasta sola.If I had never met her, I would probably have been lonely.
(Che) tuavessiincontratoNon ero sicuro che tu lo avessi incontrato veramente.I wasn't sure you had really met him.
(Che) egli / ellaavesseincontratoSe ella non ci avesse incontrato, sarebbe tornata a casa a piedi.If she hadn't met us, she probably would have walked home.
(Che) noiavessimoincontratoNonostante ti avessimo incontrato pochi giorni fa, non ti abbiamo riconosciuto.Even though we have met some days ago, we didn't recognize you.
(Che) voiavesteincontratoSe non lo aveste incontrato, chissà cosa sarebbe successo.If you had never met him, who knows what would have happened.
(Che) essi / esseavesseroincontratoSebbene loro avessero incontrato ​quel ragazzo alla festa, non ne ricordavano il nome.Even though they had met that boy at the party, they weren't able to recall his name.

 

Verbs of -ere conjugation

Credere (to believe)
 AuxiliaryPast ParticipleExampleTranslation
(Che) ioavessicredutoSe io ti avessi creduto, non so cosa sarebbe accaduto.If I had believed you, I don't know what would have happened.
(Che) tuavessi credutoAvevo dubitato che tu mi avessi creduto.I suspected you hadn't believed me.
(Che) egli / ellaavessecredutoSebbene tu le avessi creduto, era ancora triste.Even though you had believed her, she was still sad. 
(Che) noiavessimocredutoPensavano che noi ci avessimo creduto.They though we had believed it.
(Che) voiaveste credutoCosa sarebbe successo se voi ci aveste creduto?What would have happened if you had believed that?
(Che) essi / esseavesserocredutoSe essi avessero scoperto quello che noi avevamo fatto, saremmo finiti nei guai.

If they found out what we have done, we would have got in trouble.

 

Verbs of -ire conjugation

Sentire (to hear)
 AuxiliaryPast ParticipleExampleTranslation
(Che) ioavessisentitoNon sapevi che io ti avessi sentito arrivare?Didn't you know I have heard you coming?
(Che) tuavessisentitoNon sapevo che tu mi avessi sentito arrivare.I didn't know you had heard me coming.
(Che) egli / ellaavessesentitoNon eravamo sicuri che ella ci avesse sentito arrivare.We weren't sure that she had heard us coming.
(Che) noiavessimosentitoSi chiedeva se noi l'avessimo sentita arrivare.She was wondering if we had heard her coming.
(Che) voiavestesentitoCome facevamo a sapere se voi ci aveste sentito arrivare?How could we know if you had heard us coming?
(Che) essi / esseavesserosentitoNon avevo idea di quando mi avessero sentito arrivare.I haven't understood when they had heard me coming.

 

Irregular verbs in Italian past perfect subjunctive (trapassato congiuntivo)

Italian language has a lot of irregular verbs that don't follow any inflectional pattern or any grammatical rule. This type of verbs has some particular forms that must be learned by heart.

Most irregular verbs in Italian are from the -ere conjugation.

Concerning the past perfect subjunctive, as we have seen for past subjunctive, we are mostly interested in the past participle irregular forms.

 

 Fare (to do)Vedere (to see)Scegliere (to choose)Leggere (to read)Porre (to put)Rimanere (to stay)Perdere (to loose)Prendere (to take)Chiedere (to ask)Apparire (to appear)Dire (to say)Aprire (to open)
(Che) ioavessi fattoavessi vistoavessi sceltoavessi lettoavessi postofossi* rimasto/aavessi persoavessi presoavessi chiestofossi* apparso/aavessi dettoavessi aperto
(Che) tuavessi fattoavessi vistoavessi sceltoavessi lettoavessi postofossi* rimasto/aavessi persoavessi presoavessi chiestofossi* apparso/aavessi dettoavessi aperto
(Che) egli / ellaavesse fattoavesse vistoavesse sceltoavesse lettoavesse postofosse* rimasto/aavesse persoavesse presoavesse chiestofosse* apparso/aavesse dettoavesse aperto
(Che) noiavessimo fattoavessimo vistoavessimo sceltoavessimo lettoavessimo postofossimo* rimasti/eavessimo persoavessimo presoavessimo chiestofossimo* apparsi/eavessimo dettoavessimo aperto
(Che) voiaveste fattoaveste vistoaveste sceltoaveste lettoaveste postofoste* rimasti/eaveste persoaveste presoaveste chiestofoste* apparsi/eaveste dettoaveste aperto
(Che) essi / esseavessero fattoavessero vistoabbiano sceltoabbiano lettoabbiano postosiano rimasti/eabbiano persoabbiano presoabbiano chiestosiano* apparsi/eabbiano dettoabbiano aperto

 

enlightenedRemember! All the transitive verbs in Italian use essere as auxiliary; all the intransitive ones use avere.

 

The congiuntivo trapassato of transitive and intransitive verbs

As we said before, transitive verbs are followed by an object and their auxiliary verb is avere.

  • Non ero sicura che voi aveste fatto i compiti. (I weren't sure you have done your homework)

Intransitive verbs cannot be followed by an object and their auxiliary verb is essere.

  • Gli è dispiaciuto che loro non fossero rimasti con noi. (He felt sorry that they haven't stayed with us)

 

Some exceptions

As we have seen for the congiuntivo passato, some verbs (e.g. correresalirescendere) can be both transitive and intransitive and have both essere and avere.

 Correre (to run)Salire (to go up, to get in)Scendere (to go down, to descend)
(Che) ioavessi corso - fossi corso/aavessi salito - fossi salito/aavessi sceso - fossi sceso/a
(Che) tuavessi corso - fossi corso/aavessi salito - fossi salito/aavessi sceso - fossi sceso/a
(Che) egli / ellaavesse corso - fosse corso/aavesse salito - fosse salito/a

avesse sceso - fosse sceso/a

(Che) noiavessimo corso - fossimo corsi/eavessimo salito - fossimo saliti/eavessimo sceso - fossimo scesi/e
(Che) voiaveste corso - foste corsi/eaveste salito - foste saliti/eaveste sceso - foste scesi/e
(Che) essi / esseavessero corso - fossero corsi/eavessero salito - fossero saliti/eavessero sceso - fossero scesi/e

 

enlightenedThese verbs use avere when the focus of the sentence is on the action. The use of essere occurs when the focus is on the destination, the purpose or the aim of the action.
e.g. Pensavo che Luca avesse corso il rischio di perdere la partita. (I thought that Luca had run the risk of loosing the game)
       Pensavo che Luca fosse corso in suo aiuto. (I thought that Luca had rushed to her aid)

 

Auxiliary verbs in Italian past perfect subjunctive: che io fossi stato / che io avessi avuto

Below, you will find the trapassato congiuntivo of essere and of avere.

 Essere (to be)Avere (to have)
(Che) iofossi stato/aavessi avuto
(Che) tufossi stato/aavessi avuto
(Che) egli / ellafosse stato/aavesse avuto
(Che) noifossimo stati/eavessimo avuto
(Che) voifoste stati/eaveste avuto
(Che) essi / essefossero stati/eavessero avuto

 


Exercises

  1. Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the trapassato congiuntivo in Italian
  2. Choose the correct form for the passato congiuntivo of the following verbs

Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the trapassato congiuntivo in Italian


Choose the correct form for the passato congiuntivo of the following verbs


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