Past tense

The Italian past tense can be a bit tricky since there are different ways to refer to the past in Italian: the passato prossimo (the Italian perfect perfect), the imperfetto (the Italian imperfect), the passato remoto (the Italian past simple), and the trapassato remoto (the Italian past perfect). Also, in Italian, we have regular past tenses and irregular past tenses, which makes things even more complicated.

But don’t worry, with our posts, you’ll understand better and you’ll be able to use the Italian past tense correctly. You’ll find verb conjugations, explanations, and examples about the past tense in Italian. Other than finding posts about the different past tenses, you’ll also find more specific posts like one about the past of volere, potere, and dovere. You’ll also read a post about the Italian irregular imperfect tense (imperfetto irregolare) and the Italian irregular past tense (passato prossimo). You’ll find a post about the differences between passato prossimo and imperfetto. You’ll read about adverbs of time that you can you when speaking about the past in Italian, like the Italian word “appena”, which means “just”.

Start here

You’ll receive my free resources together with my best offers! Opt out at any time.

Create a free lifetime account to get access to all the free lesson and other resources.

I’ll take you to your shiny new student dashboard.

How to use “appena”: Italian grammar lesson 36

How to use “appena”: Italian grammar lesson 36

Unlock the versatility of the Italian word appena! This guide will help you master its various meanings, from timing nuances to expressing difficulty, ensuring you sound like a native in no time. 🇮🇹✨

  • Just Did Something: When paired with compound verbs, appena translates to ‘just.’ For instance, “Ho appena finito di mangiare” means “I just finished eating.”
  • Timing is Everything: Use appena with adverbs of time to pinpoint moments. “Abbiamo litigato appena prima di uscire” translates to “We had a fight just before leaving.”
  • Location Clues: Combine appena with adverbs of place to describe proximity. “Il negozio è appena dietro l’angolo” means “The shop is just around the corner.”
  • As Soon As: Before a verb, appena or non appena (both are correct) mean ‘as soon as.’ “(Non) appena arrivo a casa ti chiamo” translates to “As soon as I get home, I will call you.”
  • Only or Hardly: After a verb, appena can mean ‘only’ or ‘hardly,’ depending on the context. “Ne voglio appena un goccio” means “I only want a sip.”
  • Context is Key: Sometimes, appena requires you to be a context detective. It could mean ‘hardly’ in a sentence like “Mi fa male la schiena, riesco appena a camminare” (“I can hardly walk because of backache”).
  • Substitute with ‘Solo’: If you’re unsure, remember that appena can often be replaced with solo (only) when it comes after a verb. It’s a handy tip for beginners!
Past of “potere”, “volere”, “dovere”: Italian grammar lesson 52

Past of “potere”, “volere”, “dovere”: Italian grammar lesson 52

Dive into the heart of Italian grammar! This guide demystifies the passato prossimo, teaching you to wield the past participle like a native. You’ll master the art of recounting past events with flair, using essere and avere with ease. 🇮🇹✨

  • Passato Prossimo 101: Get the lowdown on forming the passato prossimo, Italy’s go-to past tense, by pairing essere or avere with the past participle. It’s a game-changer! 🚀
  • Cracking the Past Participle Code: Learn to chop off those -are, -ere, and -ire endings and slap on -ato, -uto, or -ito for instant past participle magic. Abracadabra! ✨
  • Modal Verb Mastery: Even the trickiest Italian verbs bow down to regular past participles. Volere, potere, and dovere? Just add -uto and you’re golden. 🏆
  • Compound Tense Concoctions: Mix and match essere or avere with that trusty past participle for a cocktail of compound tenses. It’s like a grammar bartender’s dream. 🍸
  • Gender Bender: Remember, with essere, past participles play dress-up to match the subject’s gender and number. With avere, they’re one-size-fits-all. 👗👔
  • Conjugation Station: Practice makes perfect! Conjugate volere, potere, and dovere in various tenses to flex those grammar muscles. 💪
Irregular imperfect tense: Italian grammar lesson 84

Irregular imperfect tense: Italian grammar lesson 84

Dive into the quirks of Italian with our guide on the irregular imperfect tense, imperfetto irregolare. You’ll master verbs like essere and fare, and learn when to use this tense to paint vivid past narratives.

  • Irregular Imperfect Basics: The imperfetto irregolare is the go-to for past habits or ongoing actions. It’s like setting the scene in a vintage Italian movie. 🎬
  • Memorize the Oddballs: While most verbs play nice with regular patterns, verbs like essere and fare are the rebels. Get these bad boys locked down! 😎
  • Setting the Scene: Use the irregular imperfect to describe the backdrop of your past tales. It’s like saying, “It was a dark and stormy night…” but in Italian. 🌩️
  • Storytelling Gold: When you’re narrating a story, the irregular imperfect is your paintbrush for illustrating continuous past actions. It’s all about the ambiance. 🖌️
  • Action Interruptions: Got a sudden event crashing your ongoing action? Pair the imperfetto with passato prossimo to show that contrast. It’s like a plot twist in your sentence structure. 📉
  • While in Rome: Use mentre (while) to introduce simultaneous actions. It’s like saying, “While I sipped espresso, life buzzed around me.” ☕🐝
Irregular past tense (passato prossimo): Italian grammar lesson 32

Irregular past tense (passato prossimo): Italian grammar lesson 32

Dive into the heart of Italian grammar with this comprehensive guide on the passato prossimo! Learn the ins and outs of conjugating both regular and irregular verbs, and master the use of auxiliary verbs to perfect your past tense storytelling in Italian. 🇮🇹✨

  • Conjugating Regular Verbs: Regular verbs follow a pattern in the passato prossimo. Verbs ending in -are, -ere, and -ire transform into -ato, -uto, and -ito respectively. Just swap the endings and you’re set! 🔄
  • Irregular Verb Alert: Like a twist in a good book, many Italian verbs, especially those pesky -ere ones, go rogue with irregular past participles. Memorize these rebels for fluent speaking. 📚
  • Passato Prossimo of “Avere”: To form the passato prossimo with “avere,” simply use the present tense of “avere” plus the past participle avuto. It’s like a grammar sandwich! 🥪
  • Passato Prossimo of “Essere”: When using “essere,” remember the past participle agrees with the subject’s gender and number. It’s a bit like matching your outfit to your shoes! 👠👞
  • Choosing the Right Auxiliary: Most verbs cozy up with “avere,” but verbs of movement, reflexive verbs, and some state-changing verbs prefer “essere.” It’s all about picking the right dance partner. 💃🕺
  • Irregular Past Participles: Some verbs just don’t play by the rules. Words like “fare,” “dire,” and “leggere” have their own unique past participles. Embrace their uniqueness! 🌟
  • Practice Makes Perfect: The more you use these forms, the more natural they’ll feel. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; it’s all part of the learning process. Keep practicing! 🏋️‍♂️
Passato prossimo and imperfetto: Italian grammar lesson 104

Passato prossimo and imperfetto: Italian grammar lesson 104

Get ready to master the Italian past tenses! This guide will help you differentiate between passato prossimo and imperfetto, giving you the keys to unlock the mysteries of talking about the past in Italian like a pro. 🇮🇹🕒

  • Passato Prossimo is your go-to for completed actions with present relevance or specific time frames. Think of it as the snapshot of your Italian past tense album. 📸
  • Use Imperfetto for setting the scene with ongoing past actions, habitual events, or descriptions. It’s like the background music to your Italian storytelling. 🎶
  • Spot the difference with time expressions: ieri (yesterday) screams passato prossimo, while sempre (always) cozies up with imperfetto. ⏳
  • Mix it up! Combine passato prossimo and imperfetto to describe simultaneous actions. Use imperfetto for the ongoing action and passato prossimo for the interruption. 🔄
  • Remember, imperfetto is the mood setter, painting the past with broad strokes, while passato prossimo is the action hero, driving the story forward with specific deeds. 🎨🦸‍♂️
  • Confused? Think of imperfetto as your childhood backdrop (Da piccolo) and passato prossimo as the standout moments that shaped you. 🧒✨
  • Practice makes perfect. Try crafting sentences with both tenses to get a feel for their unique flavors. It’s like cooking with basil and oregano—each brings its own zest to the dish. 🌿🍝
Adverbs of time: Italian grammar lesson 35

Adverbs of time: Italian grammar lesson 35

Unlock the secrets of Italian timing with our guide on adverbs of time! Learn how to use sempre, mai, ancora, and appena to master past and present tenses like a native. 🇮🇹⏰

  • Adverbs of time spice up your Italian by pinpointing when something happens. They’re your best pals for storytelling!
  • Remember, sempre (always) and mai (never) cozy up right after the verb in present tense. They’re like the cheese on your pizza – essential!
  • When it’s passato prossimo time, sempre and mai sandwich themselves between essere or stare and the past participle. Think of it as the Italian verb sandwich!
  • Got something that’s still happening? Ancora is your go-to. It’s like saying, “Hold up, I’m not done yet!”
  • For actions that haven’t happened just yet, pair non with ancora. It’s the polite way to say, “Wait for it…!”
  • When something’s already done and dusted, già is your word. It’s like a victory lap for completed tasks!
  • And for those moments that have just happened, appena is your knight in shining armor. It’s the mic drop of adverbs of time.
The past perfect: Italian grammar lesson 149

The past perfect: Italian grammar lesson 149

Unlock the secrets of the Italian past perfect, or trapassato prossimo, and master the art of expressing actions completed in the depths of the past. This guide will transform your Italian storytelling!

  • Grasp the Basics: The trapassato prossimo is your go-to for that “past in the past” vibe. It’s like setting a time machine within another time machine! 🕰️
  • Conjugation Is Key: Combine the imperfetto form of avere or essere with a past participle. It’s like a grammatical handshake between two tenses. 🤝
  • Gender and Number Agreement: When essere is your auxiliary buddy, make sure your past participle matches the subject’s gender and number. It’s like matching your socks – satisfaction guaranteed! 👫🧦
  • Regular Past Participles: They’re a breeze! Just swap the infinitive ending with -ato, -uto, or -ito. It’s like giving verbs a quick makeover for the past! 💅
  • Choosing Your Helper: Transitive verbs grab avere, while intransitive ones cozy up with essere. It’s all about the verb’s social circle. 🤷‍♂️
  • Context Matters: Some verbs swing both ways, transitive or intransitive. They’ll pick avere or essere based on the context, like choosing the right outfit for the occasion. 👗👖
Regular past tense (passato prossimo): Italian grammar lesson 31

Regular past tense (passato prossimo): Italian grammar lesson 31

Dive into the heart of Italian grammar with our guide on the passato prossimo! Master this essential past tense to narrate completed actions and events, and learn the tricks to avoid common pitfalls with auxiliary verbs and participles.

  • Get the Basics Down: The passato prossimo is your go-to for discussing finished past actions. Remember, it’s a combo of “to have” or “to be” with the main verb’s past participle. 📘
  • Auxiliary Verbs Are Key: Nail the use of essere and avere as auxiliaries. Most verbs use avere, but verbs of motion and changes often pair with essere. 🚶‍♂️➡️🏃‍♀️
  • Match It Up: When essere is your helper, align the past participle’s gender and number with the subject. With avere, though, the participle won’t change. Consistency is key! 🔓
  • Memorize Irregulars: Irregular past participles are a pain but super common. Bite the bullet and memorize these bad boys – your fluency will thank you. 🤓
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Use online quizzes and audio lessons to drill the passato prossimo into your brain. Repetition is your friend here, folks. 🎧✅
  • Don’t Mix Up Tenses: The passato prossimo isn’t the imperfetto. Use the former for specific, completed actions and the latter for ongoing past actions. Context is everything! 🕒
Regular Imperfect: Italian grammar lesson 83

Regular Imperfect: Italian grammar lesson 83

Dive into the heart of Italian storytelling with the imperfetto tense! Uncover when to use this past tense to paint vivid pictures of habitual actions, ongoing events, and states of being with our comprehensive guide. 🇮🇹✨

  • Describing the Past: Use imperfetto to illustrate past scenarios, like “Da piccola avevo i capelli ricci” (When I was a child, I had curly hair). It’s perfect for setting the scene. 🎨
  • Continuous Actions: To express actions that were ongoing or habits, imperfetto is your go-to. It’s like saying, “We used to meet every Friday” with “Ogni venerdì ci incontravamo.” 🔄
  • States of Mind: Feeling nostalgic? The imperfetto can help share past emotions or health, like “Ieri ero triste” (I was sad yesterday). 😔
  • Simultaneous Actions: Juggle two past actions with imperfetto for the background action and passato prossimo for the interrupting one. “Mentre studiavamo, ha squillato il telefono” (While we were studying, the phone rang). 📞
  • Conjugation Clues: Regular verbs in imperfetto are a breeze! Just tweak the verb root with “avo,” “evo,” or “ivo” based on the conjugation. “Mangiare” becomes “mangiavo” (I was eating). 🍝
  • Irregular Verbs: Keep an eye out for irregulars like fare, essere, and dire. They’re the rebels of the imperfetto world but just as important. “Facevo,” “ero,” and “dicevo” will be your new pals. 😉
  • Time Expressions: Pair imperfetto with time expressions for that authentic Italian touch. “Sempre,” “mai,” and “ogni giorno” will transport your listeners straight to your past experiences. ⏳
Try my courses for free​

Log in

Reset password or get in touch.

Not a member yet? Join today!

How long to fluency?

Find out how long it will take you to master Italian!
Get on the right track in 3 minutes.

dolce vita logo

We're already friends!

Coming from Luca and Marina?
Here's a special deal for you!
Just tell me where I should send the coupon.

50% OFF
all language resources

We're already friends!

Coming from All Language Resources?
Here's a special deal for you!
Just tell me where I should send the coupon.

50% OFF
50% OFF

To receive free resources once a week together with my best offers, just tell me where to send everything. Opt out at any time.

Create a free lifetime account to get access to all the free lesson and other resources.