How to talk about the past

The passato prossimo is formed by the auxiliary verb essere or avere followed by the participio passato (past participle).

For example: sono andato (I went), ho fatto (I did).

The passato prossimo is the main tense used in Italian to convey an action which has been completed in the past, and it is used to translate both the English present perfect and the simple past:

ho già letto quell libro (I have already read that book).

ho letto quel libro sabato scorso (I read that book last Saturday).

So, in order to talk about the passato prossimo, let’s see how to form the past participle of the verbs.

Regular past participle

1st conjugation Ballare (to dance) à ballato (danced)

2 nd conjugation Vendere (to sell) à venduto (sold)

3 rd conjugation Partire (to leave) à partito (left)

irregular past participles


The passato prossimo is a “compound tense” because it is formed with one of the auxiliary verbs essere or avere plus the past particle of a verb. Whether it requires essere or avere, depends on the verb. If the verb is a transitive verb, it requires the auxiliary avere. If the verb is intransitive (like most verbs that express movement or state of being) or if the verb is reflexive, it requires the auxiliary essere.

Passato prossimo of transitive verbs

Transitive verbs are those verbs that may be followed by an object to complete their meaning: “leggo la lettera” (I read the letter) I read what? I read the letter. The passato prossimo of transitive verbs is formed with avere (present indicative) + the past participle of the verb.

avere (present indicative) + past participle of the verb

assato prossimo con avere


Passato prossimo of intransitive verbs

Intransitive verbs don’t need an object to complete their meaning. What are the intransitive verbs?

-Verbs that express movement, like venire (to come), andare (to go), uscire (to go out) and so on.

-Verbs that express state of being, like essere (to be), stare (to stay), diventare (to become), nascere (to be born) and so on.

-Reflexive verbs. (We have already seen what reflexive verbs are in another article).

The passato prossimo of most intransitive verbs is formed with essere (present indicative) + the past participle of the verb. With essere, the past participle must agree in gender and number with the subject of the verb.

passato prossimo con essere


Some common verbs

correre (to run)
dormire (to sleep)
rispondere (to answer)
viaggiare (to travel)
vivere (to live)
lavorare (to work)
Althought intransitive, they require the auxiliary verb avere (to have)
examples: ho corso; ho dormito; ho risposto; ho viaggiato; ho vissuto; ho lavorato.


Change the verb from the infinitive form into the past participle.

Example.: parlare – Parlato

a) andare (to go)


b) giocare (to play)


c) sapere (to know)


d) mangiare (to eat)


e) sedere (to sit)


f) salire (to climb)


g) sentire (to hear)


h) capire (to understand)



Complete the sentences by changing the infinitive form in brackets into the past participle of the verb.

Example.: (finire) Pietro ha ______ tutti gli esercizi.

            Pietro ha finito  tutti gli esercizi.


  1. (affittare) Giovanna ha _______ un nuovo appartamento.


  1. (aprire) Luca ha _________ la finestra.


  1. (dormire) Questa notte lei ha ________ male.


  1. (lavorare) Ieri sera abbiamo ________ fino a mezzanotte.


  1. (bere) Carla ha ________ un bicchiere d’acqua.


  1. (correre) Oggi ho ______ nel parco.


  1. (cambiare) Francesco ha _________ il numero di telefono.


  1. (fare) Le ragazze hanno ________ una gita a Firenze.


  1. (essere) Marco e Lara sono _______ al cinema.


  1. (ritornare) Loro sono _________ a casa.


Thank you for reading the article, if you find it useful, you could like it or leave a comment. And don’t forget that you can write your exercises in a comment to have the correction.




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