Present Perfect Sentences in Italian Now, this article deals with the usage of ‘Passato Prossimo’, i.e., the present perfect tense which will help you in strengthening your grammar even further so that you come to more fully enjoy the beauty of the language.
The present perfect tense is used in the following situations:
an action which took place a short time ago.
an action which took place some time ago and the results of the action can still be felt in the present
an experience in your life
an action which has finished but the time period (e.g. this year , this week, today) hasn’t finished yet
The present perfect is formed in the following way:
il presente indicativo dei verbi essere o avere
Auxiliary to have/ to be in the present form
il participio passato del verbo in questione Past participle
1Present perfect tense or passato prossimo refers to that action which has already taken place in the past but has still has its effect in the present. For example: I have eaten.
2Now, in Italian the passato prossimo is formed with the present indicative of essere or avere + the past participle of the main verb.
- For example: Io ho mangiato (I have eaten)
3Many verbs have a regular form of the past participle.
- ARE – cantare (to sing) – cantato
- ERE – credere (to believe) – creduto
- IRE – dormire (to sleep) – dormito
4Some of the common irregular past participle are :
- aprire (to open) – aperto
- bere (to drink) – bevuto
- chiedere (to ask) – chiesto
- chiudere (to close) – chiuso
- dire (to say/tell) – detto
- fare (to do/make) – fatto
- prendere (to take) – preso
- scrivere (to write) – scritto
- tradurre (to translate) – tradotto
- vivere (to live) – vissuto
- vedere (to see) – visto (veduto)
5Also, there are certain rules that must be kept in mind. These can be called ‘Past participle agreement’.
- I.e., when ‘essere’ (to be) is used the past participle agrees with the subject, both in number (singular or plural) and gender (masculine or feminine).
- For example: Gloria è andata in discoteca sabato sera. (Gloria went to the disco Saturday evening)
- In the above example since Gloria is female, the past participle ‘andare’ becomes ‘andata’. If it had been a male then it would have been ‘andato’.
- Another example: Siamo tornati dalle vacanze da poco e ora non abbiamo voglia di lavorare. (We returned from vacation recently and now we don’t want to work)
- In the above example since the past participle ‘tornare’ is in the plural form.
- When ‘avere’ is used there is usually no need for past participle agreement.
- For example: Cinzia ha ordinato una birra gelata. (Cinzia has ordered a really cold beer)
- When past participle follows a direct object pronoun the agreement is optional.
- For example: Vi hanno sentito/ti cantare giovedi sera a teatro. (They heard you sing at the theatre on Thursday evening)
6But there is an exception. When the pronouns lo, la, l’, li, and le, are used with ‘avere’, then the agreement is necessary.
COMMON EXPRESSIONS USED WITH IL PASSATO PROSSIMO
|ieri pomeriggio||yesterday afternoon|
|ieri sera||last night|
|il mese scorso||last month|
|l’altro giorno||the other day|
|tre giorni fa||three days ago|
Conjugating regular Italian verbs in the Passato ProssimoThe Passato Prossimo is most often used like what we would call the “Simple Past” or “Present Perfect”. It is formed by using either the verb essere or avere in the present tense followed by the past participle of the verb you want to use. For Example if you wanted to say “I ate” you would first conjugate avere in the present tense and then follow it with mangiato, the past participle for mangiare. With the subject pronoun included it would look like this; Io ho mangiato (I ate or I have eaten) Regular past participles are easy to form. You simple remove the infinitive ending and apply the past participle ending as shown below; Verbs ending in ARE use ATO, for example; mangiare – are = mangi + ato = mangiato Verbs ending in ERE use UTO, for example; credere – ere = cred + uto = creduto Verbs ending in IRE use ITO, for example; finire – ire = fin + ito = finito There are many verbs that use an irregular past participle. These you will need to commit to memory.
|Verbs ending in ARE ato||Verbs ending in ERE uto||Verbs ending in IRE ito|
|Io Tu Lui/Lei Noi Voi Loro||Ho parlato Hai parlato Ha parlato Abbiamo parlato Avete parlato Hanno parlato||I spoke or have spoken You spoke or have spoken He/She/It spoke or has spoken We spoke or have spoken Y’all spoke or have spoken They spoke or have spoken|
|Io Tu Lui/Lei Noi Voi Loro||Ho creduto Hai creduto Ha creduto Abbiamo creduto Avete creduto Hanno creduto||I believed or have believed You believed or have believed He/She/It believed or has believed We believed or have believed Y’all believed or have believed They believed or have believed|
|Io Tu Lui/Lei Noi Voi Loro||Ho sentito Hai sentito Ha sentito Abbiamo sentito Avete sentito Hanno sentito||I heard or have heard You heard or have heard He/She/It heard or has heard We heard or have heard Y’all heard or have heard They heard or have hear|
Choosing the correct auxiliary verb when using Passato ProssimoThe book “English Grammar for Students of Italian” says regarding auxiliary verb selection for the Passato Prossimo: “1. All transitive verbs (the verbs which can take a direct object…) use the auxiliary avere. 2. All reflexive verbs use the auxiliary essere … 3. Intrasitive verbs … can use avere or essere …” Due to the third point, some memory work is required to determine which verbs use essere. You can find a list of common verbs conjugated with Essere in the Passato Prossimo on page 53 of the book Verb Drills by Paola Nanni-Tate It is important to note here than when you use a verb in the Passato Prossimo with the verb essere, the past participle must agree with the subject in gender and number. For example the verb andare or “to go” Lui è andato (he went) or Lei è andata (she went) Gli uomini sono andanti (the men went) or Le donne sono andate (the women went) As is always the case with gender when the plural subject is a mix of masculine and feminine you use the masculine. Now lets look at the verb Andare in the passato prossimo = conjugated auxiliary verb + (infinitive verb – infinitive ending = verb stem + past participle ending that agrees in gender and number) = conjugated verb. Example; siamo (to be for we) + [Andare (To go) – are = And + ati (past pariciple ending for masculine plural)] = Siamo Andati (We went or we have gone) Andare conjugated in the passato prossimo
|Io Tu Lui/Lei Noi Voi Loro||Sono andato or andata Sei andato or andata È andato or andata Siamo andati or andate Siete andati or andate Sono andati or andate||I went or have gone You went or have gone He/She/It went or has gone We went or have gone Y’all went or have gone They went or have gone|