Passato prossimo

  • Passato Prossimo is a tense used to express past finished events and actions. Specific actions happened in a sequence. Like in English, for example: I woke up, I cooked my breakfast, I had a shower and I went to work. 
  • With Passato Prossimo we often use time indicators like: last week (la settimana scorsa), last month (il mese scorso), yesterday (ieri), two days ago (due giorni fa) etc…
  • It is composed by the Present of the auxiliary verbs to have or to be and the past participle of the main verb (2 words): 


  • To make the past participle you just have to take off -are/ere/-ire at the endings and you need to add the new ending:

ARE →  ATO (mangiare → mangiato)

ERE UTO (ricevere →  ricevuto)

IRE →  ITO (partire →  partito)

However, there are a lot of irregular past participles, please check the main ones at this page.

But now, how to choose the auxiliary verb?

  • We use ESSERE mostly with verbs of motion, verbs that express a change, and all reflexive verbs.


Sono andato in palestra – andare – to go (motion)

I ragazzi sono tornati ieri sera – tornare –  to come back (motion)

Luisa è arrivata a casa – arrivare – to arrive (motion)

Sei diventato un bravo dottore –  diventare – to become (change)

Ragazzi, siete cresciuti – crescere – to grow up (change)

Mi sono svegliato presto – svegliarsi – to wake up reflexive

Laura si è alzata alle 10 (reflexive)

Exceptions: camminare, passeggiare, viaggiare (and some others that go with avere)

Luigi ha camminato nel parco

Ho passeggiato sulla spiaggia

Abbiamo viaggiato l’estate scorsa

  • We use AVERE whenever the verbs can be followed by direct object.


Ho mangiato una pizza – mangiare – to eat

Carlo ha saputo la verità – sapere – to know

Abbiamo ascoltato una canzone – ascoltare – to listen to

Ho capito tutto – capire – to understand

  • Let’s see 2 conjugation as models, one with essere the other with avere:
Example conjugation with essere:Example conjugation with avere:
(io) sono andato/andata
(tu) sei andato/andata
(lui) è andato/ lei è andata
(noi) siamo andati/andate
(voi) siete andati/andate
(loro) sono andati/andate

Please notice: when the auxiliary is “essere”, the past participle DOES change according to gender and number (singular M or F, plural M or  F)
(io) ho mangiato
(tu) hai magiato
(lui/lei) ha mangiato
(noi) abbiamo mangiato
(voi) avete mangiato
(loro) hanno mangiato 

Please notice: when the auxiliary is “avere”, the past participle does NOT change but is invariable.

  • One more thing. Let’s see how to conjugate the Passato Prossimo of essere and avare in their own conjugation:
I had, you had, he/she had etc…I was, you were, he/she was etc…
(regular past participle)
(Io) ho avuto
(tu hai) avuto
(lui/ lei) ha avuto
(noi) abbiamo avuto
(voi) avete avuto
(loro) hanno avuto
(irregular past participle)
(io) sono stato/stata
(tu) sei stato/stata
(lui) è stato / (lei) è stata
(noi) siamo stati/state
(voi) siete stati/state
(loro) sono stati/state

Teacher Silvia

about me

I live in a town near Rome, the city that I love for its special atmosphere and its unique soul. I lived in another fantastic city, London, for five years and it was an incredibly enriching experience that I will never forget. I have in-depth experience teaching Italian as a Second and Foreign Language both in person and online. I graduated from La Sapienza University in Rome with degrees in Italian Language and Literature and I recived the DITALS Certification in Teaching Italian as a Second and Foreign Language from the University of Siena. I have taught Italian as a Second Language since 2003 in various contexts: intensive standard Italian courses, individual tcourses, CELI and CILS exam preparation courses, business courses and online courses via live video calls. I have extensive experience in teaching adults of different ages, backgrounds and levels of competence. I’m passionate about my work because I love my native language and I also love the fact that people find Italian and Italy so interesting and beautiful. I think learning a foreign language is an exciting and challenging way to travel across a culture while enjoying yourself along the way.

Start your journey

“Learning another language is like becoming another person”.

Haruki Murakami

Copyright 2017, monica. All Right Reserved.