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Avere Past Tense

In English, the past tense is a simple tense meaning it is only made up of a single verb. For example: I spoke . In Italian however, the past is a compound tense meaning that it is made up of an auxilary verb and a past partciple. So in Italian you wouldn’t say “I spoke” but rather ‘I have spoken (io ho parlato ). Here is how you do it:

First we need to learn th verb “avere” which means “to have”

avere in the present tense
Io Ho = I have
Tu Hai = you (informal) have
Lui Ha = he or she has or it can mean you (formal) have
Noi Abbiamo = we have
Voi Avete = you (plural/informal) have
Loro Hanno = they have or you (plural/formal) have

Now we need to learn how to form a past particple

To form a past partciple, start from the infinitve form of the verb. Infinitives end in either “are” “ere” or “ire”

If the infinitive ends in “are” then you cut off the “are” and add the letters “ato” parlare —> parl —> parlato = spoken

If the infinitive ends in “ere” then you cut off the “ere” and add the letters “uto” vedere —> ved —> veduto = seen

Id the infinitive ends in “ire” then you cut off the “ire” and add the letters “ito” finire —> fin —> finito = finished

OK, now we know how to conjugate the verb avere and how to form a past particple. Let’s put it all together and make some sentences.

The formula is Avere in the present tense (see above) + the past particple

For example: To translate “I spoke” into Italian we go to the “I” form of the verb avere (which is “ho”) and then we form our past partciple (parlare (to speak) —> parl —> parlato)we put them together and come up with:

Ho parlato = I spoke or I have spoken.

Let’s try another one:

They saw

“They” form of avere = hanno
vedere (to see) —> ved —> veduto ( grammatically correct anyway a more colloquial expression is hanno visto )

Hanno veduto = they saw.

Now you can try some of these on your own ( answers at the end of the page ):

we ate (mangiare = to eat) For this one go to the “we” form of the verb avere above and then make your past particple

I finished (finire = to finish)

they sang (cantare = to sing)

He saw (vedere = to see)

You plural/formal swam (nuotare = to swim)

Please note that there are many many verbs that have irregular past participles so the above rules will not always work in all cases.


By Giacomo DePasquale

Answers : ho finito – hanno cantato – ha veduto ( ha visto is more used however ) – voi avete nuotato
Italian Past tense with avere

io ebbi

tu avesti

egli/ella ebbe

noi avemmo

voi aveste

essi ebbero




Put the verbs in the brakets in  the Past Tense:

  1. I visited Italy last year. = ……….. l’Italia l’anno scorso. (visitare)
  2. I had a strange dream. = ……… un sogno strano. (avere)
  3. We have finished.= …….. finito. (have)
  4. They spent two weeks in Sicily. = ………. due settimane in Sicilia. ( trascorrere)
  5. We ate a delicious pizza.= ……….. una pizza deliziosa. (mangiare)
  6. Marco drank too much. = Marco ……. troppo. ( bere)
  7. They  paid the bill. =  ……il conto (pagare)
  8. I  slept so well. = Io……. così bene. (dormire)
  9. I closed the door and opened the windows. = ……… la porta e ho …… le finestre. ( chiudere, aprire)

ANSWERS:   Ho visitato, ho avuto, trascorsero, mangiammo, ha bevuto, pagarono, ho dormito, ho chiuso, ho aperto.

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