Tutorial Transcript

Hi everyone and welcome back to my channel! So, today let's talk about how to choose between the near past and the distant past, because that's the topic you voted on in the community section of my channel. So keep an eye on that part of my channel, because I often publish polls to ask you which lessons you want to see. This beautiful timeline, which I drew on my blackboard, explains a little bit how to introduce the discourse of the near past and the distant past. Generally, when a distinction is made between these two past tenses, the past tense is said to be used to talk about actions close to us in the present, temporally speaking, while the distant past is used to speak of actions far away from us, always temporally speaking. So you see that on this timeline the near past is much closer to me than I am in the present, compared to the distant past, which is further away from me. The very names of these times tell us: past tense, "near" means "near"; remote past, "remote" means "far". You see that I wrote "imperfect" below. Even the imperfect is a time gone by, it is a descriptive time and therefore completes the function of the near past and the distant past. So we use these two tenses to talk about actions and facts, while the imperfect to describe situations and events. They complement each other and I must say that the near-imperfect past couple is more used in the spoken language, while the remote-imperfect past pair is more used in writing. Of course there are also exceptions to this. But now we don't focus on exceptions, because the case studies are varied and varied. In this video I would like to focus on the use of these two tenses in what we can consider a contemporary and standard use of Italian. We talked about the temporal proximity of events with the magnificent timeline on my blackboard, however it is important to also underline the emotional closeness to an event, that is how important that event is for the speaker, because an event may be far away from me in the past, but if I feel it emotionally close to me, I'm not forced to use the remote past because that event is far away from me in time. So I can still use a past tense for talk about an event very far from me if I feel that event emotionally close to me. However, the same cannot be said of the opposite: it would be very strange to use the remote past to talk about something that happened last month or this morning, that emotionally it could also be far from me, but temporally it is too close to me to justify a use of the remote past in this sense. So the doubt basically whether to use the near state or the distant past, and therefore the emotional value of that event came into play, it is relevant when an action occurs X years ago, that is when we speak of "years ago". When we talk about this morning yesterday, five minutes ago, the other day, last week, etc., we have to use the past tense. So when we start talking about "years ago", for example an action five years ago, an event five years ago, it is difficult to say whether it is right or wrong use the past tense or remote past, because it depends not only on temporal closeness, but also on the emotional closeness of the speaker. For example, we talk about our birth in the near past, right? So I say "I was born in 1992", I don't say "I was born in 1992" because it would be very strange and I'm still here. So I say "I was born in 1992" for two reasons: because obviously I'm talking about my birth and therefore an event decisive for me, isn't it? For my life, that event is emotionally very important to me. Secondly, the result of that action is still visible today. So another component comes into play, which is that of the consequences of the action. If those consequences are still visible in the present, and obviously my birth dates back more than twenty years ago, so you see that it is no longer a temporal matter, but it is primarily an emotional one. On the contrary, if I say "Garibaldi was born in 1807" I can safely use the remote past, because I'm talking about a historical figure and an event that happened more than 200 years ago, in this case the temporal point of view prevails over the emotional one. This is obviously a very interesting and much more complex topic, which I am trying to simplify. I hope to do it, but if you want to deepen this aspect, I leave you links in the description of the video below that lead to texts and explanations of the Accademia della Crusca, for example. Let's take another example: three years ago I bought the car; three years ago I bought a car. Neither of these two sentences is wrong, they are both correct and refer to two different points of view. Simply in the first case, three years ago I bought the car that I still drive today. That car is still in my life. The consequence of that action is still valid in the present, so it has an emotional component, if we want. Also because it is the speaker's car, however much one can be attached to one's own car. In the second example instead, three years ago I bought a car, if I hear this sentence what do I understand? I understand that three years ago this person bought a car, a car that no longer exists in the present, so that action is simply an action in the past and has no connection with the present. I can also say "three years ago I bought my first car", in this case I don't know if that car is still there or not in the present, but I know - because it used the near past - I know that event was an important event in that person's life. Sometimes in addition to grammar, in addition to grammar rules, there are also the emotions of the speakers and therefore it is obvious that the speakers model the language on their emotions. What should we do in our case? Italian L2? We must absolutely study the past tense, because it is the main past tense of the discourse in the past in Italian. So we must learn the past tense absolutely, together with the imperfect! As for the study of the remote past, in a context of Italian l2, if we are at a B2 level and beyond, I would say that it would be useful to get closer to the distant past, but not so much to use it in active conversation, simply to passively recognize it and to passively understand when reading or listening. Between us, I honestly don't use the passato remoto very much when I talk in everyday conversation, I have to be honest. The tense I use most is the passato prossimo, alternating it with the "trapassato prossimo" and "imperfetto", as regards the past tenses of the indicative. So I don't feel like telling you that you absolutely have to study the "passato remoto". But I think it is useful to know it and recognize it in order to understand and understand when reading a book, a novel and when maybe you listen to something, for example an audio content. This is my point of view! I hope I have been clear, I hope I have not spoken too much. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below and I will do my best to answer everyone. So, thank you for watching this video, I hope you enjoyed it and I hope it is useful and I will see you in the next one! See you soon bye!