Irregular Past Participles in Italian

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You’ve learned that if you want to talk about the past in Italian in the passato prossimo or conjugate any compound tense in the conditional or the subjunctive, you’re going to have to become familiar with the past participles of verbs. Those are what in English translate to done, made, said, seen, known, and so forth.

Lucky for you, a lot of past participles of Italian verbs are conjugated along regular patterns and therefore have formulaic endings: verbs in -are have past participles in -ato, and those in -ere and -ire have past participles in -uto and -ito, respectively. Among the regular verbs with regular past participles are camminare (camminato), parlare (parlato), credere (creduto), and finire (finito).

Irregular How?

While we do get off easy when it comes to those regular verbs, many verbs in Italian, especially the ones ending in -ere, have irregular past participles. For example, with cuocere, you might think the past participle is cuociuto but it is cotto; with leggere, you might think it is leggiuto but it is letto. With rompere, romputo, but it is rotto; with venire, venito but it is venuto.

Most verbs have more than one irregular tense or mode, but sometimes the past participle is the only mode that makes the verb irregular: it might otherwise be entirely regular. Conversely, a verb can be irregular with a regular past participle (andare with andato; cadere with caduto; bere with bevuto, based on the Latin infinitive bevere). So when we are talking here about irregular past participles, we are talking about just that: not other aspects of an irregular verb.

Patterns

One way to become well-versed in Italian past participles—besides plain memorization—is to become familiar with families of verbs and similarities between their features, regular and irregular, and even their sounds. Sometimes a mere difference in accent in the infinitive will account for a difference in pattern in the past participle.

For your ease of learning, here is a table of common verbs with similarly irregular past participles. For example, verbs that end in -endere like prendere are going to have a past participle similar to preso: sospendere, sospeso; sorprendere, sorpreso.

Plus, below you’ll find a list of some of the most common past participles that don't really fit in any family. Hopefully, we will find some reason in the madness.

Irregular Past Participles: Some Families and Groupings

This list is not all-inclusive; many verbs with irregular past participles have their own singular models (and the verbs that descend from them follow suit).

INFINITIVE

PAST PARTICIPLE

VERBS IN SAME FAMILY 

RESPECTIVE PAST PARTICIPLES

Verbs in -ere like RIDERE riso coincidere
condividere
dividere
esplodere
evadere
implodere
perdere 

 
coinciso
condiviso
diviso
esploso
evaso
imploso
perso

 

Verbs in -endere like ACCENDERE and PRENDERE


acceso
preso

arrendere
ascendere
dipendere
discendere
offendere
pretendere
riaccendere
scendere
spendere
tendere

arreso
asceso
dipeso
disceso
offeso
preteso
riacceso
sceso
speso
teso

Verbs like CHIEDERE 

chiesto

richiedere

richiesto

Verbs in -dere like CHIUDERE

chiuso

persuadere
racchiudere
rinchiudere

persuaso
racchiuso
rinchiuso

Verbs in -scere like CONOSCERE conosciuto crescere
riconoscere
rincrescere


 
cresciuto
riconosciuto
rincresciuto


 
Verbs like CEDERE cesso concedere
succedere

 
concesso
successo

 
Verbs in -ettere like METTERE messo intromettere
permettere
premettere
promettere

 
intromesso
permesso
premesso
promesso

 

Verbs in -gliere like COGLIERE 

colto

accogliere
raccogliere
sciogliere

accolto
raccolto
sciolto

Verbs like DIRE 

detto

benedire
disdire
interdire
maledire
predire

benedetto
disdetto
interdetto
maledetto
predetto

Verbs in -durre like PRODURRE prodotto
 
ridurre
 
ridotto
 

Verbs like FARE

fatto

confare
disfare
rarefare
rifare
soddisfare
sopraffare
strafare

confatto
disfatto
rarefatto
rifatto
soddisfatto
sopraffatto
strafatto

Verbs in -gere like PIANGERE pianto giungere
raggiungere
spengere
volgere

 
giunto
raggiunto
spento
volto

 

Verbs in -ggere like LEGGERE

letto

distruggere
eleggere
friggere
reggere
rileggere
sconfiggere
trafiggere

 

distrutto
eletto
fritto
retto
riletto
sconfitto
trafitto

 

Verbs in -ondere like RISPONDERE

risposto

corrispondere
nascondere

corrisposto
nascosto

Verbs like ROMPERE

rotto

corrompere
dirompere

corrotto
dirotto

Verbs like SCRIVERE

scritto

riscrivere

riscritto

Verbs like TRARRE

tratto

contrarre
ritrarre
sottrarre

contratto
ritratto
sottratto

Verbs like VEDERE visto (or veduto) avvedere
intravvedere
prevedere
provvedere
rivedere
avvisto
intravisto
previsto
provvisto/provveduto
rivisto
Verbs like VENIRE  venuto avvenire
convenire
sovvenire
svenire

 
avvenuto
convenuto
sovvenuto
svenuto

 

Verbs like VINCERE

vinto

convincere
stravincere

convinto

Verbs like VIVERE vissuto convivere
sopravvivere
convissuto
sopravvissuto
Verbs in-parire like APPARIRE apparso riapparire
scomparire
riapparso
scomparso
Verbs like APRIRE aperto coprire
offrire
coperto
offerto

Other Common Irregular Past Participles

Here are some more irregular past participles of common verbs not contained in the families above:

  • essere (to be): stato (been)
  • bere (to drink): bevuto (actually regular, based on Latin infinitive bevere)
  • chiedere (to ask): chiesto (asked)
  • conoscere (to know): conosciuto (known)
  • correre (to run): corso (run)
  • cuocere (to cook): cotto (cooked)
  • morire (to die): morto (dead)
  • muovere (to move): mosso (moved)
  • nascere (to be born): nato (born)
  • piacere (to like): piaciuto (liked)
  • rimanere (to remain): rimasto (remained)
  • scrivere (to write): scritto (written)
  • stringere (to tighten): stretto (tightened)

How to Know?

A good Italian dictionary is essential in guiding Italian language-learners through the maze of past participles. Remember, once you become familiar with the broad strokes of the families and groupings and start to recognize patterns and similarities, with a bit of practice you will be able to commit them to memory and speak in compound tenses with much greater ease.

Buono studio!