Passato remoto is an Italian past tense of the indicativo mood. The name is quite self-explanatory. It’s used to describe past “remote” actions, where remote means both far in the past and without connections with the present.
Italian is a literary language, coming form the upper class Tuscan cultural elite. All the fathers of the Italian language were Tuscan, including our beloved Dante Alighieri, who would actually turn in his grave if he knew what is happening to the passato remoto.
There is quite a lot of academic discussion about the passato remoto and its reputation of endangered “species” of the Italian language. As a matter of fact, compared to just a few decades ago, this past tense is rapidly declining in both spoken and written Italian. The main reason? Television.
Passato prossimo is more immediate, faster and easier than passato remoto and the oversimplification of the TV language is killing passato remoto quite rapidly. Moreover, it’s never been of common use in Northern Italy, the dynamic part of the country. This doesn’t mean passato remoto is dead. It is still spoken in southern Italy, in written Italian, in many media. Just one recommendation: do not trust people who say that studying it is worthless. That’s not true.
Anyhow, passato remoto is a past tense common to other neolatin languages, such as Spanish, French, Portuguese, with similar structure and meaning.
Conjugation of passato remoto goes as follows
So, for example the verb gioc-are, (to play) becomes:
Ten years ago …. Dieci anni fa…
- Io giocai
- Tu giocasti
- Lui giocò
- Noi giocammo
- Voi giocaste
- Loro giocarono
… a calcio (football)
Wrapping up, the passato remoto is a simple tense (not compound), it is a perfect tense, because it describes complete events happened in the past (as opposed to the imperfetto) and it is “remote”far enough in the past to loose any connection with the present.
We hope this quick guide was worth your attention, feel free to ask and discuss this topic. We hope to see you at one of our live Italian language lessons. Arrivederci!