PASSATO PROSSIMO vs IMPERFETTO – Live Interactive Italian Lesson

By Manu Venditti | All Levels

PASSATO PROSSIMO vs IMPERFETTO – Live Interactive Italian Lesson

The similarity between Passato Prossimo and Imperfetto is they are both past tenses but not easily recognizable in English that’s the reason why many of you struggle with getting it right. So I’m going to explain it, give you examples and quiz or let’s call it a game play.

(The mystery of these two Italian verbal tenses)

  • Events that took place in the past (near or far).
  • Events that started and ended in the past.
  • Events with a SPECIFIC point along the timeline.


Leri ho comprato un libro
Yesterday I bought a book

Cinque anni fa ho comprato una casa
Five years ago I bought a house

Stamattina ho comprato una camicia
This morning I bought a shirt

Nel 2010 ho studiato canto per 3 mesi
In 2010 I’ve studied singing for three months

Negli anni 90, ho vissuto in Spagna per 4 anni
Back in the 90’s, I’ve lived in Spain for four years


  • Compound tense: Auxiliary Verb and Past Participle .
  • Auxiliary (ESSERE and AVERE) in the present tense.
  • Transitive Verbs: AVERE (No agreement).
  • Intransitive Verbs: ESSERE (With agreement).
  • Past Participle ending in -ATO, -UTO, -ITO (Regular Verbs).
  • Many common verbs have irregular past participle.


  • Describes events/thing in the past.
  • Describes habits in the past.
  • Used for continuous actions in the past.
  • Sets the scene for something that happened (p.p).
  • Doesn’t really make a point.
  • Not a single point in the timeline (rather an extended one).

Da bambino non mangiavo la verdura
When I was a child I didn’t eat vegetables

Leri faceva un caldo incredibile
Yesterday it was crazy hot

Negli anni 90 vivevo in Spagna e parlavo spagnolo
Back in the 90’s I used to live in Spain and therefore I use to speak spanish

Mentre parlavo al telefono, ho visto Stefano
While I was speaking on the phone, I saw Stefano


  • Simple verb (one word).
  • Easy conjugation (irregular verbs are predictable).
  • Attach same endings:
  • ESSERE is irregular.
  • Renders “Used to” and “Would”.


Instructions: Using another device, go to and enter the code 98328. Then you'll be registered and participate in the game.

How do you say: “We went” (passato prossimo).

  • (a) abbiamo andato
  • (b) abbiamo andati  
  • (c) siamo andati  
  • (d) siamo andate


How do you say: :She finished” (passato prossimo).

  • (a)ha finito               
  • (b) ha finita              
  • (c) è finito            
  • (d) è finita


How do you say: “I used to swim”.

  • (a) ho nuotato          
  • (b) sono nuotato      
  • (c) nuotavo          
  • (d) ero nuotavo


How do you say: “Yesterday it was hot”.

  • (a) ieri faceva caldo                                  
  • (b) ieri ha fatto caldo


Ieri, mentre [ __1__ ] [ __2__ ] la musica.

  • (a) 1 [ho studiato] 2 [ho ascoltato]            
  • (b) 1 [ho studiato] 2 [ascoltavo]    
  • (c)  1 [studiavo] 2 [ho ascoltato]                
  • (d) 1 [studiavo] 2 [ascoltavo


Quando [?] a Roma, lavoravo in ospedale.

  • (a) ho vissuto               
  • (b) sono vissuto                
  • (c)vivevo


Quando vivevo a Roma, [?] in ospedale per 3 anni.

  • (a) lavoravo                 
  • (b) ho lavorato


Da giovane [?] i capelli lunghi.

  • (a) avevo                     
  • (b) ho avuto


Da giovane [?] i capelli lunghi per 3 mesi.

  • (a) avevo                     
  • (b) ho avuto


[?] italiano per 4 anni.

  • (a) studiavo                 
  • (b) ho studiato


Quando vivevo in Italia, [?] Italiano.

  • (a) studiavo                 
  • (b) ho studiato


Quando vivevo in Italia, [?] Italiano per 4 anni.

  • (a) studiavo                 
  • (b) ho studiato

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