Passato Prossimo vs. Passato Remoto

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by icapelliperte, Dec 14, 2005.

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  1. icapelliperte New Member

    Virginia
    USA-English
    Ciao a tutti! Ho una domanda piccola. Sono pensante essere uno stundente straniero(non so come si dice "foreign exchange student" in inglese) studiavo italiano per un anno e devo imparare più. Per favore, può dirmi la differenza tra il passato prossimo ed il passato remoto? Non capisco quale è vero o quale è più comune. Mi dispiace che il mio italiano è molto male, ma mi insegnavo la lingua per un anno senza un professore.

    Grazie,

    andrew
     
  2. silvietta

    silvietta Senior Member

    Lecce
    Italy-italian
    Ciao Andrew,
    la differenza fra il passato remoto e il passato prossimo è più o meno quella dell'inglese, anche se poco usata.
    Il passato remoto si riferisce ad un'azione terminata nel passato
    l'anno scorso comprai un paio di scarpe blu per il matrimonio di mio fratello.
    Pochi italiani usano questa forma nella lingua parlata e optano per il passato prossimo ("ho comprato"), solo al Sud sono più legati all'uso del passato remoto.
    In linea di massima si dovrebbe usare il passato remoto per azioni terminate nel passato che non hanno alcun effetto sul presente e il passato prossimo per azioni iniziate nel passato e che si protraggono o che si collegano al presente.
    Per esempio Quando morì mio nonno non ero ancora nata
    Ieri è morto mio nonno, domani ci sarà il funerale...
    Spero questo ti sia d'aiuto... un piccolo aiuto in realtà, ma arriveranno certo altre risposte!
    Silvia
     
  3. icapelliperte New Member

    Virginia
    USA-English
    Grazie. Apprezzo il suo aiuto, Silvietta. Potete dirmi come si dice in italiano "I have been studying"?

    Andrew
     
  4. silvietta

    silvietta Senior Member

    Lecce
    Italy-italian
    "Ho studiato"
    Silvia
    BTW:
    Il suo aiuto = very formal
    Potete= very very formal and unusual, the formal way would be Può dirmi
     
  5. TimeHP

    TimeHP Senior Member

    Liguria
    Italian - Italy
    ...come si dice in italiano "I have been studying?

    Si può tradurre in modi diversi:

    Esempio:
    I've been studying for an year = Studio da un anno /Sto studiando da un
    anno /É un anno che studio

    Ciao
     
  6. icapelliperte New Member

    Virginia
    USA-English
    Capisco. Quando parlerei con una persona italiana che non ho saputo, non userei la formale? Ho pensato che se parlo a qualcuno chi ha più anno di te, poi uso la formale perche sono più vecchi. Anche ho pensato che è più respettoso alle persone vecchie.

    Andrew
     
  7. Alfry

    Alfry Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    a few suggestion
     
  8. augusto orsi Junior Member

    Switzerland
    To simplify the matter use il passato prossimo (ho studiato, ho parlato, hanno scritto e avete capito e sono andato) in speaking and you’ll be safe. Its formation is not complicate ( the present of avere/ ho (80%) + plus the past participle of the main verb: mangiare /mangiato , which is unchangeable , but the use of it yes. Use Il passato remoto with all its irregular verbs only when you have started to master the language.
    For the details, please get an Italian grammar for foreigners
    a.o.
     
  9. ElaineG

    ElaineG Senior Member

    Brooklyn NY
    USA/English
    Si, hai ragione, Andrew. Pero siamo tutti amici (più o meno ;)) qui a WRF, e ci diamo del tu.

    P.S. Benvenuto!
     
  10. DAH

    DAH Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    USA/California--English
    uses of the present perfect (passato prossimo/PP) and preterite (passato remoto/PR):

    PP is used more often than the PR in order to describe a completed action, this holds especially in conversation. The PR is usually preferred as a literary past tense over the present perfect, and it is also used when the past is quite remote:

    Dante nacque nel 1265
    Baccaccio mori nel 1375.

    Schaum's Outlines, Italian Grammar, 2nd Edition, by J. Germano, Ph.D. and C. Schmidt, published by McGraw-Hill:
     
  11. luke_77

    luke_77 Senior Member

    Milan (suburbs)
    Italy - Italian
    In this case I would disagree, cause "I have been studying" is a different tense. It's a tense called "duration form" indicating something that happened in the past and keeps happening in the present.

    Ex. I've been living here for 5 years or I've been living here since I was a child.

    Luke
     
  12. danalto

    danalto Senior Member

    Roma, Italia, Europa
    Italy - Italian
    silvietta, la tua spiegazione è fenomenale. :) E' servita moltissimo anche a me!
     
  13. silvietta

    silvietta Senior Member

    Lecce
    Italy-italian
    Grazie:eek: , sono contenta che sia stata d'aiuto!
    Silvia
     
  14. silvietta

    silvietta Senior Member

    Lecce
    Italy-italian
    In linea di massima è un'ottima regola, bravo (a?). In questo forum siamo tutti virtualmente amici e l'uso del "tu" informale va benissimo... Grazie per il rispetto, ma non sono poi così vecchia:D !
    A presto
    Silvia
     
  15. augusto orsi Junior Member

    Switzerland
    I've been living here for 5 years or I've been living here since I was a child.

    I think that the name of this tense is present perfect continuous while I have lived here since 1999 it’s called present perfect. The formation of the present perfect is very similar to the formation of the passato prossimo, but the use it’s different.
    a.o.
     
  16. Andysi

    Andysi Junior Member

    Brisbane
    English Australia
    Ciao.

    This point came up in a recent private discussion. I do have an answer but would also appreciate comments from others to "flesh it out" a bit more!

    The passato remoto seems to have the closest sense to English passato semplice, even if it is more archaic. If the passato remoto has almost vanished from spoken Italian by being replaced with the passato prossimo, how can you distinguish between the sense specified by these tenses ?

    To explain my question more fully - in English the passato prossimo is not used to substitute for simple past - it has a specific sense - which means something that is often very recent but more importantly has some effect on an issue in the present.

    Examples of the difference in English:

    Hey, I wanted you to come to the movies with me tonight, but what about your homework?
    I've finished it!
    (Doing the homework was a very recent action and it has an effect on the present situation - I can go because I've finished)

    Mama - I've finished my spinach! :) (Un bambino fiero?)
    (This communicates the sense of the action being very recent - he would use passato semplice if Mama forgot he was such a good boy last week - But Mama, I finished my spinach! )

    Have you the qualifications for that research job?
    Well, I have done a PhD!
    (I may have graduated a few years ago, but it still has an effect on the present situation - being eligible for the job).

    When did you visit Ragusa?
    I stayed there in the spring of 2004.
    (It has no effect on the present situation, other than being a topic of pleasant conversation!)

    Have you seen the new blonde library chick?
    Sure! I went there on the way to class just now.
    (Very recent action, but it is closed and nothing in the present is being discussed in relation to it).


    It seems that spoken Italian opting for passato prossimo has largely lost the means to distinguish these two senses of the passato unless you use extra qualifying words.
     
  17. Max.89

    Max.89 Senior Member

    Italy
    Italy
    I can tell you what my English teacher said.

    I've done my homework.
    Ho finito i compiti.

    The time isn't individualized.

    I did my homework yesterday night.
    Ho fatto i compito ieri sera.

    The time is individualized.

    I learnt that more often I have to use passato prossimo to replace have+past participle and passato remoto with past simple but only if the time passed is quite large.

    Yesterday is relatively near,but 10 years ago is far.

    Comprai la macchina 10 anni fa.
    Mi sono fatto male ieri.

    I have to say that in a lot of cases we use passato prossimo.
    If you use always passato prossimo you'll get wrong rarely.

    I don't now if my explanation is good,but I hope so.
    Have a nice day.
     
  18. Andysi

    Andysi Junior Member

    Brisbane
    English Australia
    Thanks Max! I take it that using "ieri sera" in the sentence (making it time-specific or as you say "individualised") is what communicates the same meaning as using the English passato prossimo (in my first example)?
     
  19. moodywop Banned

    Southern Italy
    Italian - Italy
    Andy

    I don't think that adding qualifying words makes any difference. I agree with you that the distinction you make in English cannot be made in Italian. In modern spoken Italian you can even use the present perfect to speak about events as remote as the origin of life or the extinction of dinosaurs:) . From Google:I dinosauri sono scomparsi dal pianeta 65 milioni di anni fa.
    This must sound odd to English ears.

    That is also why Italians have problems deciding when to use one tense or the other in English.
    (on the other hand you don't have an imperfect tense, so there are nuances you can't express in English)

    In spoken Italian the past tense survives, for example, in the telling of fairy stories and the like.

    In written Italian the past would be used throughout a history book or biography(if it's about someone who is dead) and of course in narrative prose.
     
  20. Andysi

    Andysi Junior Member

    Brisbane
    English Australia
    Moody: I don't think that adding qualifying words makes any difference.


    One suggestion was to use appena to imply recency. Ho appena sentito.



    Moody: That is also why Italians have problems deciding when to use one tense or the other in English.
    (on the other hand you don't have an imperfect tense, so there are nuances you can't express in English)


    Yes - this is interesting. However I think using past progressive would go some way to solving this problem. Can you give me some examples where the nuance has no equivalent in English? Thanks.

    Andy
     
  21. moodywop Banned

    Southern Italy
    Italian - Italy
    But that's the same as "I've just heard" in English. To realize how we lack the subtle difference you have in English (especially in BE since AE often uses the past in place of the present perfect as in "I just saw") take the way news is reported on TV:

    The Pope has died. (long pause)
    He died in his sleep at 5.45 this morning

    You can't add "appena" there. The subtlety of using the present perfect to give the initial news (who cares what time he died, we can give that detail afterwards) and switching to the past for details of the event is just impossible to reproduce in Italian. I rest my case:)




    I have to think of some. However, to start with, just as you can switch between past and present perfect in a way we can't, being able to switch from "guardava" to "stava guardando" to emphasize the "action in progress" aspect is a choice English does not afford.
     
  22. cheshire

    cheshire Senior Member

    اليابان
    Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
    This is from Verdi's opera "Othello." I learned that remote past tense is usually used, instead of near past tense, in opera. Then, how would you say the lines above in modern Italian? Would you use near past tense for both of these first two lines?
     
  23. MünchnerFax

    MünchnerFax Senior Member

    Germany
    Italian, Italy
    It basically depends if the period of time we are referring to is... near or remote :):

    Cosa hai fatto...
    ...stamattina, ieri, la settimana scorsa, il mese scorso?
    Ho sgozzato un verro.

    Cosa facesti...
    ...uno, due, dieci, cinquanta anni fa?
    Sgozzai un verro.

    In spoken Italian, the speakers' origin also plays a role. Central and Southern Italians regularly use the passato remoto, whereas it's practically obsolete in Northern Italy.
    This is an evergreen topic :). If you search the forum, you'll find more on it.
     
  24. ElDamiano Junior Member

    England, English
    Good afternoon all,

    I recently asked the following question in another thread: -

    Could you or anyone therefore clarify the forms of speaking in the past. Would 'I was working when you called me' translate to: -

    'stavo lavorando quando mi telefonasti'


    and I was given the following reply: -

    'stavo lavorando quando mi telefonasti hai telefonato'


    Could anyone briefly explain the reason for the correction given. Is this because of points above given that the passato remoto is less used nowadays, or is there a grammatical reason also?

    Apologies to all but I am a Spanish speaker and I appreciate that this may be a common mistake in Italian. Many thanks.
     
  25. MünchnerFax

    MünchnerFax Senior Member

    Germany
    Italian, Italy
    Hi ElDamiano,

    What I wrote 4 years ago still holds. :) It is basically a matter of style. Especially in spoken language, and especially North of Florence, the passato remoto is definitely a rarity and confined to quite formal situations. Things are different south of Florence.
     
  26. ValentinaF Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Grammatically, "stavo lavorando quando mi telefonasti" is the most correct and "stavo lavorando quando mi hai telefonato" it isn't correct. In fact, the passato remoto in Italian is quite difficult (it has many exceptions) and many people aren't able to conjugate the verbs correctly. The passato prossimo is easier and more regular. I think that's the reason why, at least in Northern Italy, the passato remoto isn't used, most of all in spoken language. I would never say to a friend "Stavo lavorando quando mi telefonasti", it would sound old-fashioned, although correct. Italians are grammatically lazy! :D
     
  27. horseman Senior Member

    Italy, Campania
    english
    Ciao a tutti:

    Ma non dovrebbe essere ...." Ho anche pensato che SIA più rispettoso nei confronti delle persone più vecchie di me.

    IL conguintivo ..??? giusto?

    Grazie

     
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