The Passato Prossimo

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Let’s learn the Italian passato prossimo! The structure, some important irregular verbs and use. You’ll also find an illustrated chart for review and exercises.

The Passato Prossimo in Italian

Structure

The passato prossimo is a compound tense, that is, it consists of two words: the auxiliary verb essere or avere and the past participle of the main verb. To form the past participle, you must separate the ending -are, -ere or -ire and add -ato, -uto or -ito accordingly.

Essere / Avere + Past Participle (ATO / UTO / ITO)

Auxiliary verb AVEREMANGIARECREDEREDORMIRE
ioho
tuhai
lui, leihamangiatocredutodormito
noiabbiamo
voiavete
lorohanno
Fiona ha prenotato una camera.Fiona booked a room.
In vacanza ho mangiato spesso al ristorante.I ate at restaurants a lot on vacation.

When the passato prossimo is formed with the auxiliary verb essere, you must match the endings to gender and number – just as you do with adjectives. The endings are the classic o, a, i, e: Mario è andato a casa, Emma è andata a casa, Mario e Luigi sono andati a casa, Emma e Fiona sono andate a casa.

Auxiliary Verb ESSEREMANGIARECADEREPARTIRE
iosonoandato/acaduto/apartito/a
tuseiandato/acaduto/apartito/a
lui, leièandato/acaduto/apartito/a
noisiamoandati/ecaduti/epartiti/e
voisieteandati/ecaduti/epartiti/e
lorosonoandati/ecaduti/epartiti/e

Essere or avere?

As for the choice between essere or avere, the general rule is that verbs with an object have avere, verbs without an object like verbs of motion have essere.

Ieri sono andato al lavoro in bicicletta.I went to work yesterday on my bike.
Sabato ho mangiato una pizza.I ate a pizza on Saturday.

Learn more about this topic in our article Passato prossimo: essere or avere?

Important irregular verbs

Let’s learn some of the most important irregular verbs in passato prossimo:

InfinitoTraduzionePassato prossimo
essereto besono stato/a
fareto do, makeho fatto
dareto giveho detto
mettereto putho messo
leggereto readho letto
scrivereto writeho scritto
venireto comesono venuto/a
prendereto takeho preso
vedereto seeho visto

Wanna learn more irregular verbs? Take a look at our vocabolary list with 55 irregular verbs in passato prossimo with vocabulary trainer!

Use

The passato prossimo in Italian is generally used to refer to past, completed events. These can also have a reference with the present.

In vacanza ho visitato tante belle città.On vacation I visited many beautiful cities.
Ho mangiato due pizze e ora sono sazio.I ate two pizzas and am now full.

Illustrated chart

passato prossimo in italian

Esercizi

1. Verbi irregolari

2. Completa il testo.

Overview of all Italian Tenses

Check out our overview of all Italian tenses with handy downloadable PDFs here.

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