The past perfect subjunctive (or trapassato congiuntivo) is the the last tense of the subjunctive mood 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:
|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.|
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.
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 congiuntivo||Main 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)|
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.
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.
|(Che) io||avessi||incontrato||Se io non la avessi mai incontrata, sarei rimasta sola.||If I had never met her, I would probably have been lonely.|
|(Che) tu||avessi||incontrato||Non ero sicuro che tu lo avessi incontrato veramente.||I wasn't sure you had really met him.|
|(Che) egli / ella||avesse||incontrato||Se ella non ci avesse incontrato, sarebbe tornata a casa a piedi.||If she hadn't met us, she probably would have walked home.|
|(Che) noi||avessimo||incontrato||Nonostante ti avessimo incontrato pochi giorni fa, non ti abbiamo riconosciuto.||Even though we have met some days ago, we didn't recognize you.|
|(Che) voi||aveste||incontrato||Se non lo aveste incontrato, chissà cosa sarebbe successo.||If you had never met him, who knows what would have happened.|
|(Che) essi / esse||avessero||incontrato||Sebbene 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.|
|(Che) io||avessi||creduto||Se io ti avessi creduto, non so cosa sarebbe accaduto.||If I had believed you, I don't know what would have happened.|
|(Che) tu||avessi||creduto||Avevo dubitato che tu mi avessi creduto.||I suspected you hadn't believed me.|
|(Che) egli / ella||avesse||creduto||Sebbene tu le avessi creduto, era ancora triste.||Even though you had believed her, she was still sad.|
|(Che) noi||avessimo||creduto||Pensavano che noi ci avessimo creduto.||They though we had believed it.|
|(Che) voi||aveste||creduto||Cosa sarebbe successo se voi ci aveste creduto?||What would have happened if you had believed that?|
|(Che) essi / esse||avessero||creduto||Se 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.
|(Che) io||avessi||sentito||Non sapevi che io ti avessi sentito arrivare?||Didn't you know I have heard you coming?|
|(Che) tu||avessi||sentito||Non sapevo che tu mi avessi sentito arrivare.||I didn't know you had heard me coming.|
|(Che) egli / ella||avesse||sentito||Non eravamo sicuri che ella ci avesse sentito arrivare.||We weren't sure that she had heard us coming.|
|(Che) noi||avessimo||sentito||Si chiedeva se noi l'avessimo sentita arrivare.||She was wondering if we had heard her coming.|
|(Che) voi||aveste||sentito||Come facevamo a sapere se voi ci aveste sentito arrivare?||How could we know if you had heard us coming?|
|(Che) essi / esse||avessero||sentito||Non avevo idea di quando mi avessero sentito arrivare.||I haven't understood when they had heard me coming.|
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) io||avessi fatto||avessi visto||avessi scelto||avessi letto||avessi posto||fossi* rimasto/a||avessi perso||avessi preso||avessi chiesto||fossi* apparso/a||avessi detto||avessi aperto|
|(Che) tu||avessi fatto||avessi visto||avessi scelto||avessi letto||avessi posto||fossi* rimasto/a||avessi perso||avessi preso||avessi chiesto||fossi* apparso/a||avessi detto||avessi aperto|
|(Che) egli / ella||avesse fatto||avesse visto||avesse scelto||avesse letto||avesse posto||fosse* rimasto/a||avesse perso||avesse preso||avesse chiesto||fosse* apparso/a||avesse detto||avesse aperto|
|(Che) noi||avessimo fatto||avessimo visto||avessimo scelto||avessimo letto||avessimo posto||fossimo* rimasti/e||avessimo perso||avessimo preso||avessimo chiesto||fossimo* apparsi/e||avessimo detto||avessimo aperto|
|(Che) voi||aveste fatto||aveste visto||aveste scelto||aveste letto||aveste posto||foste* rimasti/e||aveste perso||aveste preso||aveste chiesto||foste* apparsi/e||aveste detto||aveste aperto|
|(Che) essi / esse||avessero fatto||avessero visto||abbiano scelto||abbiano letto||abbiano posto||siano rimasti/e||abbiano perso||abbiano preso||abbiano chiesto||siano* apparsi/e||abbiano detto||abbiano aperto|
* Remember! All the transitive verbs in Italian use essere as auxiliary; all the intransitive ones use avere.
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.
As we have seen for the congiuntivo passato, some verbs (e.g. correre, salire, scendere) 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) io||avessi corso - fossi corso/a||avessi salito - fossi salito/a||avessi sceso - fossi sceso/a|
|(Che) tu||avessi corso - fossi corso/a||avessi salito - fossi salito/a||avessi sceso - fossi sceso/a|
|(Che) egli / ella||avesse corso - fosse corso/a||avesse salito - fosse salito/a||
avesse sceso - fosse sceso/a
|(Che) noi||avessimo corso - fossimo corsi/e||avessimo salito - fossimo saliti/e||avessimo sceso - fossimo scesi/e|
|(Che) voi||aveste corso - foste corsi/e||aveste salito - foste saliti/e||aveste sceso - foste scesi/e|
|(Che) essi / esse||avessero corso - fossero corsi/e||avessero salito - fossero saliti/e||avessero sceso - fossero scesi/e|
These 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)
Below, you will find the trapassato congiuntivo of essere and of avere.
|Essere (to be)||Avere (to have)|
|(Che) io||fossi stato/a||avessi avuto|
|(Che) tu||fossi stato/a||avessi avuto|
|(Che) egli / ella||fosse stato/a||avesse avuto|
|(Che) noi||fossimo stati/e||avessimo avuto|
|(Che) voi||foste stati/e||aveste avuto|
|(Che) essi / esse||fossero stati/e||avessero avuto|
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