Tenses to use when writing

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Tenses to use when writing

Post by keithatengagedthinking » Sat Sep 09, 2006 6:44 pm

I wrote a little essay for my Italian lesson this week. Every week I have to write about something I read and tell the teacher what it was about. Each week she gives me something a bit more difficult to read and asks me to write more difficult things.

This week I had to write about Galileo. I had a short little story about him in Italian. It was very easy to understand, and then I had to tell her what it was about using my own words (in Italian).

I wrote it, and the only thing I got wrong was that I didn't used the passato remoto. But the story that I read was written in the present tense.

My question is when to use to what tenses? When I read the paper or magazines, I don't see the passato remoto very often. Are there different styles for different types of writing? If anyone has any guidelines for how to pick your tenses, I'd love to hear about it.


Tom S. Fox
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Re: Tenses to use when writing

Post by Tom S. Fox » Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:28 pm

You use the passato remoto for events that don’t have present relevance (at least none that you want to emphasize), which is usually the case for things a man who lived 400 years ago did. Not always, of course. It is entirely possible to say, “Galileo ha scoperto che la terra si muove,” because we still know that to be true.

The reason you don’t see the passato remoto in newspapers often is because they usually report on current events that are still relevant. When they don’t do that, they use the passato remoto, as expected. Case in point:
Nel 1969 a Beverly Hills per mano dei seguaci di Charles Manson furono uccisi la moglie di Roman Polanski e quattro suoi amici

Roman Polanski’s wife and four of his friends died at the hands of Charles Manson’s followers in Beverly Hills in 1969
And incidentally, these things apply not only to written language, but spoken language as well.

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