Present Perfect Tense in Italian

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Present Perfect (Passato Prossimo)

The present perfect tense is used to express something that happened in the past, and which is completely finished (not habitual or continuous). To form this compound tense, which can translate as something happened, something has happened, or something did happen, conjugate avere or sometimes essere and add the past participle.  To form the past participle, add these endings to the appropriate stem of the infinitives:

-are -ato
-ere -uto
-ire -ito

Verbs that can take a direct object are generally conjugated with avere.  Verbs that do not take a direct object (generally verbs of movement), as well as all reflexive verbs, are conjugated with essere and their past participle must agree in gender and number with the subject. Avere uses avere as its auxiliary verb, while essere uses essere as its auxiliary verb.  Negative sentences in the present perfect tense are formed by placing non in front of the auxiliary verb. Common adverbs of time are placed between avere/essere and the past participle.

Io ho visitato Roma.  I visited Rome.
Tu non hai visitato gli Stati Uniti.  You didn't visit the United States.
Abbiamo conosciuto due ragazze.  We met two girls.
Maria è andata in Italia.  Maria went to Italy.  (Note the agreement of the past participle with the subject.)
Ho sempre avuto paura dei cani. I've always been afraid of dogs.
Hai già finito di studiare? Have you already finished studying?

In addition, some verbs take on a different meaning in the present perfect: conoscere means to meet and sapere means to find out (or to hear).

Reflexive Verbs in the Present Perfect Tense

Since all reflexive verbs use essere as the auxiliary verb, the past participle must agree with the subject. The word order is reflexive pronoun + essere + past participle.

Mi sono divertita. I had fun.
Si è sentito male. He felt bad.

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