Italian Grammar Tip


The Italian Past Perfect Tense – called Trapassato Prossimo – is to be used to talk about events which are already over in the past. The action expressed by the Italian Past Perfect Tense happened before another event in the past.

To make the Trapassato Prossimo we use the imperfect indicative form of the auxiliary verbs essere o avere + the past participle of the main verb.


  • Prima di venire in Italia avevi già studiato l’italiano? – Had you already studied Italian before you came to Italy?
  • Quando sono arrivato il treno era già partito. – When I arrived the train had already left.
  • Eravate già stati in Africa prima dell’estate scorsa? – Had you already been in Africa before last summer?
  • Sono partito in ritardo perché avevo dimenticato una valigia a casa. – I left late because I had forgotten a suitcase at home.

Regular past participles are easy to form: remove the infinitive ending and add the past participle ending as shown below.

Verbs ending in ARE use ATO: mangiare – are = mangi + ato = mangiato
Verbs ending in ERE use UTO: credere – ere = cred + uto = creduto
Verbs ending in IRE use ITO: finire – ire = fin + ito = finito

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