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A brief overview and quiz about the Trapassato Prossimo, the Italian Pluperfect.

Ciao a tutti!

The trapassato prossimo does not get the attention it deserves. We are all so focused on common Italian past tenses, such as the imperfetto and passato prossimo, that sometimes we don’t give a good look this one.

The trapassato prossimo is “the past of the past“: it describes an action/situation taking place before another past action/situation. Usually, it teams up with the imperfetto, passato prossimo and remoto, but it can also relate to the presente.


In addition, we can simply say:

  • Te l’avevo detto! (before now)

  • Non ero mai stato a Napoli. (Not before I did…)

That’s very common in Italian. The Trapassato can live by itself and interact with the present or an event in the past which is not disclosed by the speaker.

As you can see in the examples, the Trapassato Prossimo is a compound tense, formed by the imperfetto of essere or avere and the past participle.

So, we give the background to an action in the past by saying what happened before. That’s the Trapassato Prossimo. There are other relatively uncommon functions of this tense, but that’s it for today. Just study the examples in the quiz and let me know if you have questions.

A presto!



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