Languages › Italian The Remote Past Tense in Italian Share Flipboard Email Print Lost Horizon Images / Getty Images Italian Vocabulary History & Culture Grammar by Michael San Filippo Michael San Filippo co-wrote The Complete Idiot's Guide to Italian History and Culture. He is a tutor of Italian language and culture. Updated December 28, 2018 The remote past tense (passato remoto), although typically used to talk about history or in literature, is actually a simple tense and is formed by one word. In general, as we referenced, it refers to the historical past or to events that have happened in the distant past relative to the speaker. However, there are many places in the south of Italy that still use the remote past tense as the passato prossimo. For example, someone might use the past remote tense to talk about something that happened just two weeks ago. How to Form the Past Remote Tense Follow this format to form the passato remoto of regular verbs: For -are verbs, drop the infinitive ending and add one of these personal endings to the root: -ai, -asti, -ò, -ammo, -aste, -arono.For -ere verbs, drop the infinitive ending and add these personal endings to the root: -ei, -esti, -é, -emmo, -este, -erono. Note that many regular -ere verbs have an alternative form in the first person singular, third person singular, and third person plural forms.For -ire verbs, drop the infinitive ending and add these personal endings to the root: -ii, -isti, -í, -immo, -iste, -irono. Here are a few examples of how the remote past is used in Italian: Dante si rifugiò a Ravenna. - Dante took refuge in Ravenna.Petrarca morì nel 1374. - Petrarca died in 1374.Michelangelo nacque nel 1475. - Michelangelo was born in 1475. The table below provides examples of three regular Italian verbs (one of each class) conjugated in the remote past tense. Conjugating Italian Verbs in the Remote Past Tense PARLARE RICEVERE CAPIRE io parlai ricevei (ricevetti) capii tu parlasti ricevesti capisti lui, lei, Lei parlò ricevé (ricevette) capí noi parlammo ricevemmo capimmo voi parlaste riceveste capiste loro, Loro parlarono riceverono (ricevettero) capirono Irregular Verbs in the Past Remote Tense Like with most verbs in Italian, there are plenty of irregular ones in the past remote tense. Here are five common verbs. 1) Essere – To be fui fummo fosti foste fu furono — Albert Einstein fu un uomo di grande saggezza. – Albert Einstein was a man of great wisdom. — “Fatti non foste per viver come bruti…” - “Consider your origins: You were not born to live like brutes." [Dante, La Divina Commedia, canto XXVI) 2) Avere – To have ebbi avemmo avesti aveste ebbe ebbero — Ebbero così tanta fortuna da vincere persino il primo premio della lotteria nazionale! - They had such luck that they also won the first prize of the National Lottery! — Giulia ebbe il coraggio di donare un rene a sua sorella. - Giulia had the courage to donate a kidney to her sister. 3) Fare – To do/make feci facemmo facesti faceste fece fecero — Con pochi soldi fecero un matrimonio bellissimo. – They set up a beautiful wedding with little money. — Facemmo tutto il possibile per riportare alla luce l’affresco di Raffaello. - We did everything possible to bring to light Raffaello’s fresco. 4) Stare – To stay/to be stetti stemmo stesti steste stette stettero — Mi ricordo che stetti in silenzio tutta la festa. Ero troppo timida! - I remember I spent the whole party without saying a word. I was too shy! — I feriti, dopo la scoperta della penicillina nel 1937, stettero subito meglio. - The wounded felt immediately better after the discovery of penicillin in 1937. 5) Dire – To say dissi dicemmo dicesti diceste disse dissero — Cimabue disse: “L’allievo ha superato il maestro.” – Cimabue said: “The pupil has surpassed the teacher.” — Romeo e Giulietta si dissero parole d’amore che sono arrivate fino ai nostri tempi! - Romeo and Juliet said words of love to each other that have persisted until the present! Continue Reading How to Use the Future Tense in Italian Understanding the Italian Present Conditional Tense Using the Past Participle in Italian How to Use the Italian Verb Piacere Using the Italian Past Perfect Subjunctive Tense How to Conjugate the Italian Verb Nascere Understanding the Italian Preterite Perfect Tense Proper Use of the Verb 'Stare' in Italian Is a Big Step to Fluency How to Conjugate the Verb Fare in Italian Tables of Regular Italian Verb Endings How to Use the Italian Verbs 'Sapere' and 'Conoscere' Conjugate the Verb 'Leggere' in Italian How to Conjugate the Verb "Imparare" in Italian Conjugation Tables for the Italian Verb 'Abitare' How to Conjugate the Verb "Credere" (believe or think) in Italian Conjugation Table for the Italian Verb 'Cercare'