(by DuoItalian)

The Italian Past Perfect (trapassato prossimo) is used for an action which had finished before another action took place in the past. It is formed with the combination of the following:

Imperfect Tense of Avere or Essere
Past Participle of the Conjugated Verb

For example in the sentence “The car was sliding because it had snowed,” you would identify which action happened first. In this case it is “it had snowed” making this the verb to be conjugated in the trapassato prossimo.

You would first conjugate avere in the imperfect tense and then follow it with nevicato (the past participle for nevicare). The result would look like this:

  • La macchina sbandava perché aveva nevicato.

Additional examples are given below to hopefully provide a better understanding of this somewhat complicated verb tense.

  • Prima di venire in Italia avevi già studiato l’italiano? (Had you already studied Italian before you came to Italy?)
  • Quando arrivai in stazione, il treno era già partito. (When I arrived at the station the train had already left.)
  • Avevo chiuso le finestre quando è cominciato a piovere. (I had shut the windows when it started to rain.)

Another use of the trapassato prossimo is to express actions which have taken place some time ago and ended.

  • Ero stato a casa tutto il fine settimana. (I had been at home the whole weekend.)
  • Marco aveva letto il giornale. (Marco had read the newspaper.)
  • Luigi e Simona avevano già visto il film. (Luigi and Simona had already seen the film.)

To refresh your memory, the imperfect tense of both avere and essere are as follows:

io avevo ero
tu avevi eri
lui,lei aveva era
noi aveviamo eriamo
voi avevate erate
loro avevano erano

The past perfect follows the same rules in regard to avere and essere as the present perfect.

→ Click here for a brief explanation: AVERE or ESSERE?

(from Duolingo)
avevamo guardatowe had watched
aveva scrittohe had written
avevo apertoI had opened
aveva fattohe had made
erano arrivatithey had arrived
ero dettoI was told
era andatohe had gone
ero statoI had been
erano uscitithey had exited
avevi datoyou had given
avevano conosciutothey had known (someone)
aveva saputohe had known (something)
avevamo lavoratowe had worked
erano rimastithey had remained
avevo vistoI had seen
avevano volutothey had wanted
eravamo venutiwe had come
aveva trovatohe had found
avevamo pensatowe had thought
avevo parlatoI had spoken
avevi messoyou had put
aveva presohe had put
avevamo portatowe had brought
avete chiestoyou (all) had asked
avevo credutoI had believed
avevano lasciatothey had left
aveva sentitohe had heard
avevo tenutoI had kept
erano diventatithey had become
avevo capitoI had understood
erano passatithey had passed
era entratashe had entered
aveva vissutohe had lived
eravamo ricordatiwe had remembered
avevi usatoyou had used
avevo chiamatoI had called
erano mortithey had died
mi era piaciutoI had liked
avevano seguitothey had followed
avevamo aspettatowe had waited


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