Read this page, then try this practice.

The passato remoto is another past tense. It will help you most with readings. It is a narrative tense, used to recount historical events or actions in the distant past, and is used often in books and newspapers. In northern and central Italy, it is not nearly as widespread in spoken Italian as the passato prossimo, whereas in the South, it is common in spoken Italian as well. For most of you, it will be more important to understand the use of this tense and to recognize the forms as you read than to actively reproduce them in conversation or on tests.


There are three types of passato remoto verbs:

  • those with regular forms, following a pattern of endings that only vary slightly among verb classes (-are, -ere, and -ire), including verbs like parlare, credere and finire.
  • those with completely irregular forms, such as essere and avere
  • those with partially irregular forms, that is, a combination of regular and irregular forms, in verbs such as fare, dare, vedere, and leggere. In these verbs, the io, lui/lei, and loro forms are irregular – following a pattern of stem changes established by the io form, while the tu, noi and voi forms are regular.

Check out the following conjugations.

regular totally irregular partially irregular
parlare credere finire essere fare avere scrivere
io parlai credei finii fui feci ebbi scrissi
tu parlasti credesti finisti fosti facesti avesti scrivesti
lui/lei parlò credè finì fu fece ebbe scrisse
noi parlammo credemmo finimmo fummo facemmo avemmo scrivemmo
voi parlaste credeste finiste foste faceste aveste scriveste
loro parlarono crederono finirono furono fecero ebbero scrissero

Check out the regular verbs. You see that the endings are very similar from one verb class (-are, -ere,
-ire) to the next, with the variation found in a vowel.

With the partially irregular verbs, the irregularities are found in what’s called a 1-3-3 pattern: (1st person singular: io; 3rd person singular: lui/lei; 3rd person plural: loro).

For the conjugations of irregular verbs in the passato remoto, have a look at these verb charts.

Passato Remoto Verb Charts

Regular Verbs

parlare ricevere dormire
io parlai ricevetti / ricevei dormii
tu parlasti ricevesti dormisti
lui/lei parlo’ ricevette / riceve’ dormi’
noi parlammo ricevemmo dormimmo
voi parlaste riceveste dormiste
loro parlarono ricevettero / riceverono dormirono

Totally Irregular Verbs

bere dare dire essere fare stare tradurre
io bevvi diedi dissi fui feci stetti tradussi
tu bevesti desti dicesti fosti facesti stesti traducesti
lui/lei bevve diede disse fu fece stette tradusse
noi bevemmo demmo dicemmo fummo facemmo stemmo traducemmo
voi beveste deste diceste foste faceste steste traduceste
loro bevvero diedero dissero furono facero stettero tradussero

Partially Irregular Verbs

avere leggere mettere nascere sapere scrivere venire
io ebbi lessi misi nacqui seppi scrissi venni
tu avesti leggesti mettesti nascesti sapesti scrivesti venisti
lui/lei ebbe lesse mise nacque seppe scrisse venne
noi avemmo leggemmo mettemmo nascemmo sapemmo scrivemmo venimmo
voi aveste leggeste metteste nasceste sapeste scriveste veniste
loro ebbero lessero misero nacquero seppero scrissero vennero

There are many others, including the list that follows. With the io and tu forms, you may easily derive the others:

io tu
cadere caddi cadesti
chiedere chiesi chiedesti
conoscere conobbi conoscesti
correggere corressi correggesti
decidere decisi decidesti
dipingere dipinsi dipingesti
discutere discussi discutesti
perdere persi perdesti
piacere piacqui piacesti
piangere piansi piangesti
prendere presi prendesti
ridere risi ridesti
rimanere rimasi rimanesti
rispondere risposi rispondesti
scendere scesi scendesti
succedere successi succedesti
tenere tenni tenesti
vedere vidi vedesti
vivere vissi vivesti

The -ere verbs actually have a set of alternative endings, that you will certainly come across frequently in your readings. They would be helpful to recognize too, and follow the 1-3-3 partially irregular pattern:

credetti (or credei)
credette (or crede’)
credettero (or crederono)

Don’t underestimate the importance of accents in this tense, to be observed in writing and speaking! Remember, one accent can make the difference between tense and subject:

  • lavoro = I work (present tense)
  • lavorò = He worked (passato remoto)

Like the passato prossimo, the passato remoto is used in tandem with the imperfetto (imperfect). The passato remoto is a narrative tense that recounts unique completed actions or events, while the imperfect is a descriptive tense, used to describe repeated or habitual actions, actions in progress, or states of mind, body, weather, time, etc. You can use the same logic and set of rules that you used to distinguish between the passato prossimo and imperfetto and apply them to the new choice between passato remoto and imperfetto.

Passato Remoto: Practice