Passato prossimo - 'we were playing' or 'we have played'?

I still have a problem with this.

An example: "(...) e abbiamo giocato sulla spiaggia tutto il giorno ..."

Does it mean 'we were playing' or 'we have played'?

Have tried to translate with google, an app, and more. I get different translations.


The whole sentence (in case you need more than above):

  • Ho fatto tante belle cose: ho fatto il bagno, ho conosciuto tanta gente simpatica e abbiamo giocato sulla spiaggia tutto il giorno ... e tu cosa hai fatto?

(You don't need to translate it all. I know what it means.)

August 14, 2016


We have played = Abbiamo giocato
We were playing = Stavamo giocando :)

August 14, 2016

So - to take an example more - 'Ho fatto tante belle cose' does not mean 'We have done many good things' but 'we did many good things'(?).

What continues to confuse me is that 'avere' is used. Because it means have ...

August 14, 2016

[deactivated user]

    Unfortunately for you (DX) passato prossimo have to be used in this way: verb to have (avere) and to be (essere) + past participle of second verb.

    Essere is used for verbs that change a state: to come (venire), to be (essere) to born (nascere) to die (morire) to go back (ritornare) to go (andare) to leave (partire) (hoping that i haven't forget other verbs lol).

    How it works? Remember the verb essere conjugated?

    (io) sono

    (tu) sei

    (egli) è

    (noi) siamo

    (voi) siete

    (essi) sono

    (ignore egli and essi....the old teaching way of italian lol , i don't know if they are still used).

    Now add the participle of the verbs in -are (like andare) turns into -ato, the verbs in -ire (like partire) turns into -ito and verbs in -ere (but not in this category if i remember well xD) ends in -uto...and of course there are also irregular partciples like (essere-stato , morire -morto, venire-venuto and nascere-nato).

    Now add the second verb in this way:

    (io) sono andato

    (tu) sei andato

    (egli) è andato

    (noi) siamo andati (watch out, it's plural because of we)

    (voi) siete andati

    (essi) sono andati

    Now do the same thing with the rest of verbs that want the verb to have (and yes, evene here there are irregular verbs, like the verb fare):

    (io) ho fatto

    (tu) hai fatto

    (egli) ha fatto

    (noi) abbiamo fatto

    (voi) avete fatto

    (essi) hanno fatto

    August 14, 2016

    Thank you. That part I know.

    August 14, 2016

    If you wish to practice Italian by reading novels and stories, it is quite essential to learn the pronouns 'egli /ella' and 'essi /esse'. Otherwise, every time you encounter them, you would have to use a dictionary or a glossary to understand their meaning, besides being confused about why these words are used in place of 'lui / lei' and 'loro'.

    August 17, 2016

    [deactivated user]

      I am not sure if you reply is adressed to me (because i received in my inbox your answer) but...i'm italian (and as i see, you are you too).

      I use egli and essi because they teached me in this way, i don't know if now in italian schools they still use the same subject pronouns.

      August 17, 2016

      I have been taught to use them a long time ago, when 'egli'/'ella' and 'essi'/'esse' were normally heard in radio or TV programmes, and one was expected to use them at school, as well. Today schools no longer care about grammar (nor does the TV), so these pronouns have been almost completely oblivioned in favour of 'lui'/'lei'/'loro'. Writers keep using the proper pronouns in their works, although now they do so more sparingly than a few decades ago. But while a young native speaker would easily understand 'egli' or 'essi' all the same (having heard them or read them occasionally), to a learner of Italian they may likely sound totally new and confusing. For this reason, I believe that 'egli'/'ella' and 'essi'/'esse' should be at least memorized by learners. All in all, they are only four more words to study.

      August 17, 2016

      Well, it's not that different from English when you think about it! "We have --> Abbiamo", "We were --> Stavamo"

      Anyway, Feliksia has already explained everything in great detail ;)

      August 14, 2016

      Translations are, at best, just approximations of meaning. Each tense, in both languages, carries its own unique baggage that doesn't transfer over into the other language.

      August 17, 2016

      [deactivated user]

        I know that is not easy but try to not to think in english, remove it from your brain... only for a moment xD.

        Passato prossimo has nothing to do with present perfect, passato prossimo is used for action ALREADY ENDED (even if the time expression is not mentioned).

        In spoken language (especially in the north, for what i've hard) is used in 90% of cases, in few words passato remoto is almost replaced by passato prossimo.

        We were playing= stavamo giocando is a case of gerundio passato (which in english is past continous).

        We have played= past form but that (this english form) doesn't exist...It exists only passato prossimo, passato remoto and imperfetto.

        Passato prossimo= it is used for action already ended (recently but also for actions ended time ago). If we have to translate it in english, it's the equivalent of simple past and present perfect, the same with passato remoto (am i forgetting other english tenses xD?).

        Ho mangiato una pizza = i have eaten a pizza/ i ate a pizza (from the english point of view but remember, passato prossimo is for actions ended).

        In spoken language this tense is used also for action ended for example one weeek ago, or even months ago.

        Passato remoto (i'm only explaining it but for now, ignore it)= it is used for actions already ended, as the name suggest (remoto, remote) is used for action ended a lot of time ago.

        (keep it only in mind this tense, it is only an example how this tense works):

        Mangiai una pizza da piccolo = I ate a pizza when i was a child (hoping that the english translation is ok, english past tenses are a bother for me xD).

        Passato imperfetto= as the name says, imperfetto is used for actions that doesn't explain clearly if the action ends or not.For example is used for describing something or also an action interrupted by something.

        Portava (or indossava) una maglietta = he wore a shirt.

        Scrivevo una lettera quando mi chiamò mia madre= i was writing a letter when my mother called me. (but at the end we don't know if i finished to write his/her letter) and when i will have finished to write my letter, i will say:

        Ho scritto una lettera > passato prossimo > action ended.

        August 14, 2016

        Thank you!

        My English is not perfect and I have not yet become acquainted with all tenses. Additionally, I do not quite master the English terms, what is what in relation to the Danish. But I understand 95% of it.

        The book I use right now is dealing with passato prossimo, gerundio and condizionale. The last two I have so far only read about, not dealt with. But I know what it is ...

        August 14, 2016

        [deactivated user]

          Don't worry, even my english is not perfect (urgh xD!).

          Wow, you are doing too much o-o.

          Start first with passato prossimo, bit by bit, then you can continue with other tenses ;).

          August 14, 2016

          No, you misunderstand what I write. So far I have only worked with presente and passato prossimo. :)

          I just mention what comes later in the book ...

          August 14, 2016

          [deactivated user]

            Ahahah ok xD.

            August 14, 2016


            Has again become confused. :/

            A final example.

            'Hai parcheggiato la macchina?' is not 'Have you parked the car?' but 'Did you park the car?'

            Perhaps in the end I still have not understood anything ...

            August 16, 2016

            [deactivated user]

              No, don't say it, it happens to be confused, it happens millions of time when you are learning don't worry ;).

              Hmm, in fact in this case is not an action that we are sure if it ended or not (in fact is a question and he/she wants a reply).

              Sì, ho parcheggiato la macchina.

              In this answer the action is ended but now that i think of it....

              No, non ho ancora parcheggiato la macchina = no, i haven't parked my car yet

              I have never thought of it, but this kind of sentences in english are translated as present perfect. (but as i said, we shouldn't think in another language) however in italian is always required passato prossimo.

              ....funny fact is that italians (or is it only me?) have lots of problems with present perfect, we do lots of fatigue when to use present perfect in english, because at the end, we always use passato prossimo in both cases without noticing this slight difference (like the sentence you wrote) because yes, in that case, there's no confirm of that action and so we don't know if that action ended or not....funny, somehow we have our "present perfect" and we have never noticed it xD (or maybe i should say I xD). but despite this, present perfect is our/my weakness.

              Geez, there is always something to learn, even in our mother tongue ahahahaha xD.

              Anyway, think it in this way: use always passato prossimo for action ended recently or not much far xD.

              August 16, 2016


              Came to write some nonsense. Has been corrected!!


              Hmm... so is it A (parked) or B (park)?

              In danish 'parked' is 'parkeret' and 'park' is 'parkerede'. I need to know which Danish translation is the right one ...

              Maybe this is hard for me because I have to translate the explanations to Danish. Perhaps that is where it goes wrong.

              August 16, 2016

              [deactivated user]

                I know that's hard (in fact even the second example i wrotei still have some doubts -> non ho ancora parcheggiato la macchina, it goes in conflict with my italian brain and my english knowledge that at the end i'm becoming idiot xD) but try to not to think in danish.

                Simply think that whatever is the case we use only passato should be simple since it covers two tenses (but for me it remains only one, present perfect for me doesn't exists at the end in italian).

                Hai mangiato? Have you eaten? No, non ho mangiato. No, i didn't eat.

                Ieri ho visto un film bellissimo.Yesterday i saw a very beautiful movie. Un mese fa sono andato a Roma. One month ago i went to Rome.

                For actions recents, sure and ended, always passato prossimo...sempre, sempre passato prossimo whatever is the case xDDD.

                August 16, 2016


                So should I just forget if it is one or the other - and instead just relate to bothe the same way - as past tense, as a whole?

                I've probably got that wrong too.

                August 16, 2016


                Past simple = Action in the past
                Present perfect = Action in the past still effecting the present

                Passato prossimo = Action that has been completed in the past ("I have done this", but also "I haven't done this", just like in English)

                So.. your sentence "Have you parked the car?" is a completed action (well, a question referring to one) with a result still ongoing in the present, meaning that if the answer to the question is yes, you have completed the parking, and the car is still parked. "Did you park the car?" also refers to a completed action, but we don't know when it happened, it could have been a week ago, a month ago, etc..

                Anyway, they're both completed actions, so "Hai parcheggiato la macchina?" works in both cases.

                August 16, 2016


                Thank you. But I am completly messed up. I can not find out to turn it around in to danish.

                Translated from english two danish the two sentences are: 'Har du parkeret bilen' and 'Parkerede du bilen? I have to find a Dane who can Italian (which probably will not succeed) and tell me whether it is A or B. It is in this case unfortunately the only thing that will work.

                August 16, 2016


                Feliksia89 -> I understand what you write. But I still need to know what it is in danish. I mean, I have to be able to translate this - like everything else - correctly ...

                August 16, 2016


                According to Google translate, you guys have "Jeg parkerede bilen" and "Jeg har parkeret bilen", what's the difference between the two?

                August 16, 2016


                That is excatly the problem. It is not the same. But I am not able to explain it. Do not know how to do it.

                Well, the meaning is - almost - the same. But it is still two different sentences ...

                August 16, 2016


                ❤❤❤❤... I can no longer figure out what I write (or thinking, for that matter)

                Just forget about it all.

                August 16, 2016

                [deactivated user]

                  The only thing i can say is....poor you and your brain, i don't envy you xD.

                  August 17, 2016


                  It will probably work out.

                  I should not have dealt with it yesterday. Was very tired. Actually I had not slept at all the night before. Then you are not near as much present.

                  I will read it all again tonight. And I think I've mastered it.

                  August 17, 2016

                  [deactivated user]

                    More you think "but how...why?" and more the thing becomes frustrating. It happened a lot of times with me, for french, german, english and swedish, but these kind of situations that are so strange for us are normal for a native speaker, it's only a matter to get used at.

                    For example, a recent experience i had with french...why do they always put du, de la etc xD everywhere ? (while in my language is totally different). At the end i said to myself " oh, heck, stop thinking in italian and do more practice with french" the end, after some repeatitions with lots of exercices, the thing became easier and now i don't have any problem (uh, well, not always xD). It's only a matter of practice ;).

                    August 17, 2016
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