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Preterite perfect tense (trapassato remoto) in Italian

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The preterite perfect (trapassato remoto) is a compound tense that belongs to the indicative mood.

Definition and usage of the preterite perfect tense (trapassato remoto) in Italian

The trapassato remoto is usually used in literary contexts. In everyday language* it is rarely used, except in very formal contexts.

*enlightenedIn everyday language the trapassato remoto is usually replaced with the passato remoto or the trapassato prossimo.


The trapassato remoto refers to an action that took place in the past before another action introduced by the passato remoto.
Therefore, the trapassato remoto can be usually found in subordinate clauses.

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Marker words that indicate the trapassato remoto

The trapassato remoto can be introduced by the following marker words:

ExampleTranslation
Dopo cheAfter
QuandoWhen
Non appenaAs soon as
FinchéUntil


Examples:

  • Non appena ebbe finito di piovere, il lupo andò a dormire (As soon as it had stopped raining, the wolf went to sleep).
  • Quando ebbe finito di lavorare, gli chiesi informazioni sull'evento che stava organizzando (When he had finished to work, I asked him some information on the event he was planning).

Conjugation of the trapassato remoto

Th trapassato remoto is formed as follows:

Passato remoto of the auxiliary verb essere/avere + participio passato (past participle) of the main verb

Conjugation of regular verbs in the trapassato remoto

Here you can find three examples of regular verbs in the trapassato remoto tense.

Verbs that belong to the -are conjugation

Example mangiare (to eat)

 Passato remoto auxiliary verbParticipio passato main verbExampleTranslation
IoebbimangiatoIo ebbi mangiato una melaI had eaten an apple
TuavestimangiatoTu avesti mangiato una melaYou had eaten an apple
Egli/EllaebbemangiatoEgli ebbe mangiato una melaHe had eaten an apple
NoiavemmomangiatoNoi avemmo mangiato una melaWe had eaten an apple
VoiavestemangiatoVoi aveste mangiato una melaYou had eaten an apple
Essi/EsseebberomangiatoEssi ebbero mangiato una melaThey had eaten an apple

 

Verbs that belong to the -ere conjugation

Example credere (to believe)

 Passato remoto auxiliary verbParticipio passato main verbExampleTranslation
IoebbicredutoIo ebbi creduto alle sue bugieI had believed to his lies
TuavesticredutoTu avesti creduto alle sue bugieYou had believed to his lies
Egli/EllaebbecredutoEgli ebbe creduto alle sue bugieHe had believed to his lies
NoiavemmocredutoNoi avemmo creduto alle sue bugieWe had believed to his lies
VoiavestecredutoVoi aveste creduto alle sue bugieYou had believed to his lies
Essi/EsseebberocredutoEssi ebbero creduto alle sue bugieThey had believed to his lies

 

Verbs that belong to the -ire conjugation

Example dormire (to sleep)

 Passato remoto auxiliary verbParticipio passato main verbExampleTranslation
IoebbidormitoIo ebbi dormito tutto il giornoI had slept all day
TuavestidormitoTu avesti dormito tutto il giornoYou had slept all day
Egli/EllaebbedormitoEgli ebbe dormito tutto il giornoHe had slept all day
NoiavemmodormitoNoi avemmo dormito tutto il giornoWe had slept all day
VoiavestedormitoVoi aveste dormito tutto il giornoYou had slept all day
Essi/EsseebberodormitoEssi ebbero dormito tutto il giornoThey had slept all day

 

Conjugation of irregular verbs in the trapassato remoto

Verbs that form the participio passato irregularly, have to be studied by heart.
Here are some examples:

 Vedere (to see)Morire (to die)Vivere (to live)Scrivere (to write)Leggere (to read)
Ioebbi vistofui morto/a*ebbi vissutoebbi scrittoebbi letto
Tuavesti vistofosti morto/a*avesti vissutoavesti scrittoavesti letto
Egli/Ellaebbe vistofu morto/a*ebbe vissutoebbe scrittoebbe letto
Noiavemmo vistofummo morti/e*avemmo vissutoavemmo scrittoavemmo letto
Voiaveste vistofoste morti/e*aveste vissutoaveste scrittoaveste letto
Essi/Esseebbero vistofurono morti/e*ebbero vissutoebbero scrittoebbero letto

 

*enlightenedRemember that when you use the auxiliary verb essere, the participio passato must agree with the subject in gender and number!

 

Auxiliary verbs: essere/avere

The auxiliary verbs form the trapassato prossimo as follows:

 Essere (to be)Avere (to have)
Iofui stato/aebbi avuto
Tufosti stato/aavesti avuto
Egli/Ellafu stato/aebbe avuto
Noifummo stati/eavemmo avuto
Voifoste stati/eaveste avuto
Essi/Essefurono stati/eebbero avuto

 

Examples:

  • Non appena ebbi avuto notizie da Luca, parlai con Caterina (As soon as I got news from Luca, I talked to Caterina)
  • Quando ebbi avuto modo di andare in libreria, comprai un libro (When I had tha chance to go to the bookshop, I bought a book)

Now don't forget to try our exercises to improve your knowledge!


Exercises

  1. Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the trapassato remoto
  2. Match the correct form of the trapassato remoto to the box with the correct personal pronoun

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


Match the correct form of the trapassato remoto to the box with the correct personal pronoun


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