When does one use the past and imperfect tenses in Italian?

In Italian, the past tense (passato prossimo) is used to indicate events or actions that have happened in the recent past and have been completed.


          Example: Ieri sono andata in palestra (yesterday I went to the gym)


The second form of past tense in Italian is the imperfect (impefetto), which is used to indicate continuity in the past. It is used in three different occasions:

1.       An ongoing action in the past that is interrupted by another event

Example: Mentre scrivevo la mia tesi, mia mamma mi ha chiamata (while I was writing my thesis, my mum called me)

2.       A repeated/continuous action in the past

Example: Quando ero alle superiori, giocavo spesso a palla canestro (when I was at secondary school, I played basketball often)

3.       Two or more events that happened simultaneously in the past

Example: Mentre facevo I compiti, mio fratello svuotava la lavastoviglie (while I was doing my homework, my brother was emptying the dishwasher)

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