How to say “to spend time”: Italian grammar lesson 114

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In this lesson we will have a look at the verb passare, which can often be translated with the English “to pass”.

The verb passare in Italian

Passare is a very common verb in the Italian language, and it can be used in a variety of contexts, and with many different meanings.

One of the uses of the verb passare (to pass) is to express the passing of time in Italian: 

Passare il tempo. 

To spend time.

First of all, however, let’s have a look at how to conjugate passare (to pass), which is a regular first-conjugation (-ARE) verb.

In the next paragraph, you will find the present, future, past imperfect, and passato prossimo (present perfect) conjugations of passare. 

Conjugations of passare


  • io passo
  • tu passi
  • lei passa
  • noi passiamo
  • voi passate
  • loro passano

Futuro semplice

  • io passerò
  • tu passerai
  • lei passerà
  • noi passeremo
  • voi passerete
  • loro passeranno

Passato prossimo

  • io ho passato
  • tu hai passato
  • lei ha passato
  • noi abbiamo passato
  • voi avete passato
  • loro hanno passato


  • io passavo
  • tu passavi
  • lei passava
  • noi passavamo
  • voi passavate
  • loro passavano

Passare il tempo: to spend time

Now that you know how to conjugate the verb passare (to pass), let’s see how to use it to talk about time in Italian.

As we’ve already seen above, in Italian we use the expression passare il tempo to sayto pass/spend time“.

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Let’s have a look at some examples:

Mi piace passare il tempo con i miei nonni.

I love spending time with my grandparents.

Passi più tempo con Franco che con me!

You spend more time with Franco than you do with me!

Vi piacerebbe passare più tempo insieme?

Would you like to spend more time together?

Sometimes, we can also change the direct object from the word tempo (time), to any other word that indicates a period of time. Have a look at the sentences below:

Vorrei passare il Natale con i miei genitori quest’anno.

I would like to spend Christmas with my parents this year.

Giacomo vorrebbe passare il fine settimana in montagna.

Giacomo would like to spend the weekend in the mountains.

Passare in Italian: other meanings

The verb passare in Italian can also be used in other ways, and not just to talk about time.

If we use it in a transitive way, which means with a direct object, the verb passare almost always means “to pass“.

See the examaples:

Hai passato l’esame?

Did you pass the exam?

Passami l’olio d’oliva per favore.

Pass me the olive oil please.

Il parlamento ha passato una nuova legge.

The Parliament passed a new law.

If you use the same verb in an intransitive mode (without a direct object), however, it can mean many different things, like “to pass/go through”, “to pass by”, “to travel through”, etc.

Take a look at the following examples:

Il Tevere passa per Roma.

The Tevere river passes through Rome.

Sono passata a salutare Lucia stamattina.

I passed by Lucia’s to say “hi” this morning.

Se vai in Croazia puoi passare da Trieste, è bellissima!

If you go to Croatia you can go through Trieste, it is very nice.

Siamo passati per la Francia per arrivare in Spagna.

We traveled through France to get to Spain.

Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!


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