L11: The Remote Past / Remote Past Perfect

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L11: The Remote Past / Remote Past Perfect

Post by BillyShears »

The Remote Past (Il Passato Remoto)

The passato remoto is a simple tense which is used to indicate events in the remote past. It is used when events have no continuing effect on or reference to the present. In contrast, the passato prossimo is used for past actions in a time period that continues to have an effect on the present.
Carlo wrote:...it's hardly ever used in spoken Italian, especially in the North. I would argue that even in spoken Italian it's the only possible tense in (i) telling fairy tales (ii) talking of historical events (iii) talking about the lives of dead authors/public figures/greatgreatgrand...s. In written Italian it is of course widely used in fictional writing. So let's not tell learners they do not need to learn it.

For a language to lose a tense all of a sudden is like a person losing a limb. You have to re-adjust. Could the loss of this tense in spoken Italian have caused the uncertainty between using the past and the past perfect?

Regional variation. According to textbooks the present perfect is rarely used in speech in the North (except for the specific cases I mentioned above), it is used more in the South but is losing ground there as well...
Conjugation of -are Verbs That Take Regular Passato Remoto Endings

To conjugate -are verbs that take regular passato remoto endings add ai, asti, ò, ammo, aste, or arono to the root of the verb (ex. to parl for the verb parlare).

Parlare (to speak)

io parlai (I spoke)
tu parlasti / Lei parlò (you spoke - informal / formal)
lui / lei parlò (he / she spoke)

noi parlammo (we spoke)
voi parlaste (you spoke)
loro parlarono (they spoke)

Conjugation of -ere Verbs That Take Regular Passato Remoto Endings

Verbs of the second conjugation (-ere) may have an alternate set of endings for the first and third singular and for the third person plural in regular passato remoto endings. In standard usage the forms –etti, –ette, and –ettero are preferred.

Verbs whose root ends in t though, such as potere and battere, take the endings –ei, –é and –erono in standard usage for the first and third singular and for the third person plural.

For all -ere verbs that take regular passato remoto endings esti, emmo, and este are used in the second person singular, first person plural and second person plural respectively.
Quintus wrote:The two forms are pretty interchangeable. Besides, the "etti/ette" form is loved here in Tuscany. Nevertheless, the verbs whose passato remoto is afflicted by an excess of "t"s are often changed to the "ei, é, erono" form because it is perceived as more "elegant" (or less fun, if you prefer).

But in a noisy environment, or on a noisy telephone line, "potei" and "poté" could be confused, because the trailing "i", although pronounced separately (po-te-i, poh-teh-ih), is preceded by another vowel (the "e') and, due to sort of a mix up, it may get lost in the noise, so the listener at a point might not be able to grasp if you are speaking of yourself (I, the first person) or him/her (egli, the third person).

Anyway I too like the "ei" form more, but this is only a theoretical issue. It's infrequent for me to use the passato remoto: the common trend here is to use the passato prossimo, which has a completely different meaning from your passato prossimo. The Italian passato prossimo simply indicates that something happened in the recent past, that's all. Now, since "recent" and "remote in time" are absolutely subjective concepts, you can hear the passato prossimo used even for events that happened in prehistory (a very bad habit though). So, I wouldn't say "Non potei venire" nor "Non potetti venire", I would say "Non sono potuto venire" (potere requires 'essere' as an auxiliary). But I am very attentive to use the passato remoto when needed in my writings because the use of the passato prossimo is starting to become abused and using it in all circumstances is something really crappy.
Ricevere (to receive)

io ricevetti (ricevei) (I received)
tu ricevesti / Lei ricevette (ricevè) (you received - informal / formal)
lui / lei ricevette (ricevè) (he / she received)

noi ricevemmo (we received)
voi riceveste (you received)
loro ricevettero (riceverono) (they received)

Potere (to be able to)

io potei (potetti) (I was able to)
tu potesti / Lei potè (potette) (you were able to - informal / formal)
lui / lei potè (potette) (he / she was able to)

noi potemmo (we were able to)
voi poteste (you were able to)
loro poterono (potettero) (they were able to)

Conjugation of -ire Verbs That Take Regular Passato Remoto Endings

To conjugate -ire verbs that take regular passato remoto endings add ii, isti, ì, immo, iste, or irono to the root of the verb.

Partire (to depart, to leave)

io partii (I left)
tu partisti / Lei partì (you left - informal /formal)
lui / lei partì (he / she left)

noi partimmo (we left)
voi partiste (you left)
loro partirono (they left)

The -ire -isc verbs (see the Verbs section - L6: The Present Indicative Tense of -ire Verbs) are conjugated like the other -ire verbs in the Passato Remoto.

Capire (to understand): capii, capisti, capì, capimmo, capiste, capirono

Essere and other Verbs Irregular In All Forms

Essere does not follow a pattern so all singular and plural persons must be memorized.

io fui (I was)
tu fosti / Lei fu (you were - informal / formal)
lui / lei fu (he / she was)

noi fummo (we were)
voi foste (you were)
loro furono (they were)[/size]

bere (to drink): bevvi, bevesti, bevve, bevemmo, beveste, bevvero
dare (to give): diedi, desti, diede,demmo,deste,diedero
dire (to say): dissi, dicesti, disse, dicemmo, diceste, dissero
fare (to do, to make): feci, facesti, fece, facemmo, faceste, fecero
stare (to stay): stetti, stesti, stette, stemmo, steste, stettero

Avere and Other Irregular Verbs Conjugated Like Avere

Avere follows the "1-3-3" pattern which is the use of an irregular root (ebb) in the first and third person singular and in the third person plural. The respective endings are -i, -e, and -ero.

io ebbi (I had)
tu avesti / Lei ebbe (you had - informal / formal)
lui / lei ebbe (he / she had)

noi avemmo (we had)
voi aveste (you had)
loro ebbero (they had)

Other Verbs Conjugated Irregularly Like Avere
*Note: verb (meaning) / regular root / irregular root:
- *conjugation
chiedere (to ask) / chied / chies:
- chiesi, chiedesti, chiese, chiedemmo, chiedeste, chiesero
chiudere (to close) / chiud / chius:
- chiusi, chiudesti, chiuse, chiudemmo,chiudeste, chiusero
conoscere (to know) / conosc / conobb:
- conobbi, conoscesti, conobbe, conoscemmo, conosceste, conobbero
decidere (to decide) / decid / decis:
- decisi, decidesti, decise, decidemmo, decideste, decisero
leggere (to read) / legg / less:
- lessi, leggesti, lesse, leggemmo, leggeste, lessero
mettere (to put) / mett / mis:
- misi, mettesti, mise, mettemmo, metteste, misero
nascere (to be born) / nasc / nacqu:
- nacqui, nascesti, nacque, nascemmo, nasceste, nacquero
prendere (to take) / prend / pres:
- presi, prendesti, prese, prendemmo, prendeste, presero
rispondere (to respond) / rispond / rispos:
- risposi, rispondesti, rispose, rispondemmo, rispondeste, risposero
rompere (to break) / romp / rupp:
- ruppi, rompesti, ruppe, rompemmo, rompeste, ruppero
sapere (to know how) / sap / sepp:
- seppi, sapesti, seppe, sapemmo, sapeste, seppero
scrivere (to write) / scriv / scriss:
- scrissi, scrivesti, scrisse, scrivemmo, scriveste, scrissero
vedere (to see) ved / vid:
- vidi, vedesti, vide, vedemmo, vedeste, videro
venire (to come) / ven / venn:
- venni, venisti, venne, venimmo, veniste, vennero
vivere (to live) / viv / viss:
- vissi, vivesti, visse, vivemmo, viveste, vissero
volere (to want) / vol / voll:
- volli, volesti, volle, volemmo, voleste, vollero

Examples of the Passato Remoto

Gaio Giulio Cesare disse, "Venni, vidi, vinsi."
(Gaius Julius Caesar said, "I came. I saw. I conquered." )
Il venti febbraio del millenovecentosessantadue, l'astronauta John Glenn orbitò attorno alla Terra tre volte. (On February 20, 1962, John Glen orbited around the earth three times.
Lee Harvey Oswald assassinò il presidente John F. Kennedy a Dallas, Texas. (Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.)
I Beatles suonarono all'Ed Sullivan Show il nove febbraio del millenovecentosessantaquattro. (The Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964.)
Elvis Presley e Pricillia Wagner si sposarono il primo maggio del millenovecentosessantasette. (Elvis Presley and Pricillia Wagner married on May 1, 1967.)
Gli astronauti americani atterrarono sulla Luna il venti luglio del millenovecentosessantanove. (American astronauts landed on the moon on July 20, 1969.)

Il nonno di Christopher nacque a Messina nel millenovecentocinque. Visse in Sicilia fino al millenovecentoventisette. A ventidue anni emigrò in America. A venticinque sposò la nonna di Christopher. Per molti anni lavorò come un barbiere. Morì a Filadelfia nel millenovecentottantaquattro.
(Christopher's grandfather was born in Messina in 1905. He lived in Sicily until 1927. At 22 years old he immigrated to America. At 25 years old he married Christopher's grandmother. He worked many years as a barber. He died in Philadelphia in 1984.)
From the book Ciao! by Carla Larese Riga - Un giorno la Madonna, San Giuseppe e il Bambino Gesù partirono da Gerusalemme con il loro asino. San Giuseppe mise la Madonna e il Bambino Gesù sull'asino. Lui era a piedi. Arrivarono ad un altro paese. La gente guardò i tre viaggiatori e disse: «Che vergogna! La giovane donna e il bambino sono sull'asino, e il povero vecchio cammina!» Allora la Madonna e il Bambino smontarono dall'asino e incominciarono a camminare e San Giuseppe salì sull'asino. Arrivarono ad un altro paese e sentirono altri commenti della gente: «Che vergogna! L'uomo forte è sull'asino e la povera donna con il bambino cammina!» Allora tutti e tre montarono sull'asino. Ma appena arrivarono ad un terzo paese, la gente ricominciò con i commenti: «Che vergogna! Tre persone sopra un povero asino!» E resmontarono dall'asino e lo portarono sulle spalle. Quando arrivarono ad un altro paese, gli abitanti fecero altri commenti: «Che stupidi! Tre persone che portano un asino!>>
The Remote Past Perfect (Il Trapassato Remoto)

The trapassato remoto is formed with the passato remoto of the auxiliary (avere or essere) and the past participle. The rules for the use of avere versus essere are applied the same in all compound tenses as learned in L9: The Present Perfect Indicative.

The trapassato remoto is used only when the verb of the main clause is in the passato remoto and only in subordinate clauses introduced by conjunctions of time such as allorchè (when) quando (when), dopo che (after), (non) appena (as soon as), come (as soon as, just as) finchè (until), etc.

Lavorare (to work)

io ebbi lavorato (I had worked)
tu avesti lavorato / Lei ebbe lavorato (you had worked - informal / formal)
lui / lei ebbe lavorato (he / she had worked)

noi avemmo lavorato (we had worked)
voi aveste lavorato (you had worked)
loro ebbero lavorato (they had worked)

Andare (to go)

io fui andato / io fui andata (I had gone - masculine / feminine)
tu fosti andato / Lei fu andato (you had gone - informal / formal masculine)
tu fosti andata / Lei fu andata (you had gone - informal / formal feminine)
lui fu andato / Lei fu andata (he had gone / she had gone)

noi fummo andati / noi fummo andate (we had gone - mixed or masculine group / feminine group)
voi foste andati / voi foste andate (you had gone - mixed or masculine group / feminine group)
loro furono andati / loro furono andate (they had gone - mixed or masculine group / feminine group)

Non appena che ebbe attraversò il fiume Rubicone, Cesare marciò su Roma. (As soon as he had crossed the Rubicon river, Caesar marched on Rome.)
Dopo che fu andato in America, Giovanni, per molti anni, lavorò come un barbiere.
(After he had gone to America, John, for many years, worked as a barber.)
Impariamo.com has a Facebook page < https://www.facebook.com/impariamo.com >

Chi domanda non fa errori.

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