"Sentii il telefono suonare."

Translation:I heard the telephone ring.

October 27, 2014

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Can someone tell me if this is really how the remote past is used? How remote is remote? "I heard the telephone ring 5 minutes ago? " "My name is Watson, and I heard the phone ring in 1876?"


(Italian speaker) I don't agree with Roadlawyer: according to my grammar book Passato remoto is used for action which are past, finished AND far, so you couldn't use it for actions happened yesterday.

The problem is that the use of passato remoto has a regional connotation: in Northen Italy nobody use it even when it could be used (it's used only with Historical events or in storytelling), but in South Italy it is the only past used, so they use it even when it shouldn'd be used (like, one hour ago, that is wrong). Just in Centre Italy they use it the right way.

So, if you want to talk with an Italian don't worry about it: we are used to people who use it in the wrong way. But if you want to know what should be the best way to use it, well the rule says that passato remoto requires both a finished action with no relation with the present and a far past ("how much far it has to be it is personal: the "distance" can be chronological or psychological)

Some examples:

  • "I was born in 1945" = "sono nata nel 1945". If the person is still alive we usually don't use "passato remoto";
  • "My son was born one year ago and he died one week later" = "Mio figlio nacque/è nato un anno fa e morì/è morto una settimana dopo". Here it is personal: the chronological distance is not so far, but what about psychological? have you turned the page, or not?;
  • "Fabrizio De Andrè was born in 1940" = "Fabrizio De Andrè nacque nel 1940". No Doubt: it is chronologically distant and he isn't still alive, so there's no connection with the present or psychological proximity.


I've used "use" so many times that I'm sure I've made some mistake.. sorry: I have to increase my English vocabulary...


Thanks for a really useful explanation. (Your use of 'use' so much is not a problem in this case, where you are simply explaining something technical. If it were a creative piece you might want to vary it)


Thanks for the insight.


Essentially it is used for past completed events which have no connection to the present, so remote past could be what happened yesterday if the action was completed.


in any unspecified time?


Yes, as long as it's past.


and differene with congiuntivo imperfetto?


You use it in literature. So you'd come across it reading a book


Please tell me what could possibly be wrong with I heard the phone ring. Duolingo marked it wrong and said it should be I heard the telephone ring. In English phone and telephone are interchangeable.


I heard the telephone ringS, no? In general, am I wrong - if the first part of the sentence is in the past tense then the second part has to be also in the past. Like, I heard the telephone was ringing, I heard the telephone rang??? I'm confused


'Ring' can also be past tense, so 'I heard it ring' is correct. 'The bells rang' is past tense, they were ringing but they have stopped, but 'the bells ring' mean it is happening now.


I heard the phone ringing : accepted Mar 2017


when I started learning Italian at work (a long time ago), we were told that the sound a telephone makes is described by the verb "squillare". Duo does not seem to know this. I am reporting it.


They have used the verb "squillare" in one of the stories - The Sconosciuta


I heard the phone ring marked wrong plain stupid


I think a simple gaming platform like this should leave Passato Remoto alone. While I hear that some native speakers use it in Southern Italy, it is primarily used in literature. I just came back from three weeks in Rome and Florence and never once heard it in conversation.

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