The Italian present gerund
The Italian present gerund is the equivalent of the English -ing, as in eating, living, going, doing, etc.
However, it does not always translate into the -ing form in English.
The gerund is a verbal mood.
You’ll spot it very easily because it ends in -ando or in -endo.
We use the gerund in two cases:
- With the verb stare
- Without the verb stare
Ho imparato il francese leggendo libri
I learned French by reading.
Let’s find out more about the Italian gerund!
How to form the Italian present gerund?
The gerund follows a pattern and is pretty regular.
Basically, the verbs that end in -are in the infinitive end in -ando in the gerund.
And the verbs that end in -ere and -ire in the infinitive end in -endo in the gerund.
Here are some examples:
- Mangiare (to eat): mangiando
- Cantare (to sing): cantando
- Leggere (to read): leggendo
- Scendere (to go down): scendendo
- Dormire (to sleep): dormendo
- Finire (to finish): finendo
However, there are some verbs that have an irregular gerund. These are the most common ones:
- Bere (to drink): bevendo
- Dire (to say): dicendo
- Fare (to do): facendo
The gerund with stare
We use the gerund with the verb stare to talk about actions in progress either in the present or in the past.
These two tenses are what we call in English present continuous and past continuous.
Italian present continuous
We use the Italian present continuous to describe an action that happens at the time of speaking. It’s formed with the present tense of the verb stare + gerund verb, like in the examples below:
A: Cosa stai facendo?
B: Sto leggendo.
A: What are you doing?
B: I’m reading.
Italian past continuous
We use the Italian past continuous to talk about an action that happened at the time of speaking. It’s formed with the imperfect tense of the verb stare + gerund verb:
A: Cosa stavano facendo?
B: Stavano cucinando.
A: What were they doing?
B: They were cooking.
Conjugation of stare
So, you basically need to remember the conjugation of the verb stare in the present tense and in the imperfect:
- Present tense: io sto, tu stai, lui/lei sta, noi stiamo, voi state, loro stanno
- Imperfect tense: io stavo, tu stavi, lui/lei stava, noi stavamo, voi stavate, loro stavano
Practice with QuizletHere's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.
The gerund without stare
We can also use the gerund without the verb stare but it’s less common.
We mainly use it to say why, how, and while something happens or happened.
The Italian gerund to talk about why
We could translate the gerund with “because” or “since”. It will all depend on the context and what you want to say.
Studiando molto, è riuscita ad entrare in quell’università.
Because she studied a lot, she was able to get into that university.
Non avendo molto tempo, prenderò un taxi per l’aeroporto.
Because I don’t have a lot of time, I will take a taxi to the airport.
Essendo stanchi, abbiamo deciso di tornare subito a casa.
Since we were tired, we decided to return home.
The Italian gerund to talk about how
We can also use the Italian gerund to talk about how something happens or happened.
Mi sento molto meglio correndo ogni giorno.
I feel much better by running every day.
Ho imparato l’italiano vivendo in Italia.
I learned Italian by living in Italy.
Sono dimagrito mangiando solo frutta e verdura.
I lost weight by eating only fruit and vegetables.
The Italian gerund to talk about while
We can also use the Italian gerund to talk about an action that is happening or was happening at the same time as another action.
Cammina, parlando al telefono.
She walks while speaking on the phone.
Cucinando, Luca pensa al suo futuro.
While cooking, Luca thinks about his future.
Tornando a casa, ho incontrato Pietro.
Going back home, I met Pietro.
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