What is the difference of meaning between the following sentences?

  • Non l'ho visto prima che tu aprissi la porta.
  • Non l'avevo visto prima che tu aprissi la porta.

I am familiar with the different usages of the "passato prossimo" and "trapassato prossimo" tenses, but I cannot grasp the difference in this specific context.

  • 1
    Personally, I would use neither, and go for "l'ho visto solo quando hai aperto la porta" instead. – Federico Poloni Dec 24 '20 at 22:08
  • +1 Federico. Simpler and more effective – cristian v Dec 30 '20 at 11:13

The first sentence doesn't sound right to me even if it is commonly used. It's implicit that I am saying that I saw in the past but I didn't see before. Then you must use the "trapassato" for the not-seing action.

  • 1
    Welcome to Italian.SE! I don't understand your arguments for affirming that the first sentence doesn't sound right. – Charo Nov 3 '19 at 8:11
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    The trapassato is for actions that happened before the action in the main sentence that is already in the past. It's a "double past". Here, the implicit action is I saw, already in the past, then you need a trapassato. To me the key is prima. Anyway, the trapassato is often replaced with a passato in the spoken language and used only when you want to stress the action sequence – cristian v Nov 3 '19 at 8:56

There's no difference in meaning. At least if you agree that "I didn't see him before opening the door" and "I hadn't seen him before opening the door" mean the same thing.

  • Welcome to Italian.SE! – Charo Oct 3 '19 at 21:25
  • I wish downvoters would explain why they have downvoted an answer. – Alan Evangelista Jan 4 at 22:45
  • Honestly, me too ;) – musialmi Jan 5 at 10:48

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