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Italian Past Perfect Tense

The past perfect tense is used to talk about

  • an action which had finished before another action took place in the past


Non siamo andati al cinema (present perfect) perchè avevamo già visto (past perfect) il film.
We didn't go to the cinema because we had already seen the film.

To make the past perfect we use:

Imperfect indicative form of the auxiliary verbs
e
ssere o avere
+
The past participle of the main verb

Examples:

Marco aveva letto il giornale.
Marco had read the newspaper.

Ricordi quando eravamo andati in vacanza a toscana?
Do you remember when we went to Tuscany on holiday?

Prima di venire in Italia avevi già studiato l'italiano?
Had you already studied Italian before you came to Italy?

Tempo fa ero stata a Parigi per la prima volta.
I went to Paris for the first time a long time ago.

Luigi e Simona avevano già visto il film.
Luigi and Simona had already seen the film.

Ti avevo detto di fare i compiti!
I did tell you to do your homework!

Quando arrivai in stazione, il treno era già partito.
When I got to the station the train had already left.

N.B: For most verbs we use the auxiliary verb avere while for most verbs of movement we use the auxiliary essere.

The past perfect forms of the verbs mangiare, credere e partire:

Mangiare (to eat)

Credere (to believe)

 io avevo

 tu avevi

 lui/lei/Lei aveva

 noi avevamo

 voi avevate

 loro/Loro avevano

mangiato

 io avevo

 tu avevi

 lui/lei/Lei aveva

 noi avevamo

 voi avevate

 loro/Loro avevano

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 ero

 tu eri

 lui/lei/Lei era

partito/a

 noi eravamo

 voi eravate

 loro/Loro erano

partiti/e

The past perfect forms of the verbs essere and avere:

Essere (to be)

Avere (to have)

 io ero

 tu eri

 lui/lei/Lei era

stato/a

 io avevo

 tu avevi

 lui/lei/Lei aveva

 noi avevamo

 voi avevate

 loro/Loro avevano

avuto

 noi eravamo

 voi eravate

 loro/Loro erano

stati/e

 

See also:

Italian Exercises The past perfect tense in italian

 

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