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Italian Past Anterior Tense (Trapassato Remoto)

The past anterior tense, also called the preterite perfect tense, is used to talk about:

  • an action which took place before an action in the past definite tense (passato remoto)


For example:
Dopo che ebbi cucinato (past anterior) , pulii (past definite) la cucina.
After cooking, I cleaned the kitchen.

To make the past anterior tense we use:

The past definite form of the auxiliary verb
e
ssere
or avere
+
The past participle of the main verb

Examples:

Finchè non ebbi finito di studiare non uscii a giocare.
I didn't go out to to play until I had finished studying.

Dopo che la casa fu costruita ci andarono ad abitare.
After the house had been built we went to live there.

Solo dopo che gli fu fatto notare l'errore trovò il coraggio di scusarsi.
Only after he had been made aware of his mistake did he find the courage to apologise.

Non appena fui giunto a casa cominciò a piovere.
As soon as we reached the house it started to rain.


The past anterior forms of the verbs mangiare, credere and partire:

Mangiare (to eat)

Credere (to believe)

 Io ebbi

 Tu avesti

 Lui/Lei ebbe

 Noi avemmo

 Voi aveste

 Loro ebbero

mangiato

 Io ebbi

 Tu avesti

 Lui/Lei ebbe

 Noi avemmo

 Voi aveste

 Loro ebbero

creduto

When the past perfect is used with the auxiliary verb essere, the past participle of the main verb must agree with the gender and number of the subject.

Partire (to go away)

 Io fui

 Tu fosti

 Lui/Lei fu

partito/a

 Noi fummo

 Voi foste

 Loro furono

partiti/e

The past anterior forms of the verbs essere and avere.

Essere (to be)

Avere (to have)

 Io fui

 Tu fosti

 Lui/Lei fu

stato/a

 Io ebbi

 Tu avesti

 Egli ebbe

 Noi avemmo

 Voi aveste

 Loro ebbero

avuto

 Noi fummo

 Voi foste

 Loro furono

stati/e

Note that in spoken Italian the past anterior tense is not very common.

 

See also:

Italian Exercises The past perfect tense - Group nouns

 

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