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Thursday
Sep202007

il passato remoto - the past absolute

So far when referring to actions that began and ended in the past we have used the passato prossimo. But Italian also has another way to describe past actions, the passato remoto. This one isn’t as common in everyday speech, except maybe in the south, but occurs quite commonly in written Italian, so you'll need it if you want to read. Here’s how it’s formed…

lavorare

lavorai
lavorasti
lavorò
lavorammo
lavoraste
lavorarono

credere

credei (or credetti)
credesti
credé (or credette)
credemmo
credeste
crederono (or credettero)

finire

finii
finisti
finì
finimmo
finiste
finirono

So you just remove the –are, –ere or –ire and substitute the endings shown in bold.

The problem with the passato remoto is that it has too many irregularities! Let’s start with the usual suspects…

essere
fui
fosti
fu
fummo
foste
furono

dare
diedi
desti
diede
demo
deste
diedero

dire
dissi
dicesti
disse
dicemmo
diceste
dissero

fare
feci
facesti
fece
facemmo
faceste
fecero

stare
stetti
stesti
stette
stemmo
steste
stettero

But it doesn’t end here. Most –ere verbs are irregular in the passato remoto. The irregularity takes the form of a change in the stem of the io, lui / lei and loro forms.

Most stems of –ere verbs whose accent falls on the –ere ending (like “avere”) double their final consonant.

Most stems of –ere verbs whose accent falls on the stem (like “leggere”) change their final consonant to s, ss, ns or rs.

But again, this stem change only affects the io, lui / lei and loro forms. The following conjugations of avere and leggere will illustrate.

avere

ebbi
avesti
ebbe
avemmo
aveste
ebbero

leggere

lessi
leggesti
lesse
leggemmo
leggeste
lessero

Like avere:

bere – bevvi
cadere – caddi
piacere – piacqui
sapere – seppi
vedere – vidi
venire – venni
volere – volli
conoscere – conobbi
nascere – nacqui

Like leggere:

chiedere – chiesi
correggere – corressi
decidere – decisi
dipingere – dipinsi
discutere – discussi
perdere – persi
piangere – piansi
prendere – presi
ridere – risi
rispondere – risponsi
scrivere – scrissi
sorridere – sorrisi
succedere – successi
vincere – vinsi

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