Present Gerund: Italian Grammar Lesson

Lesson 234

Key Takeaways

A reader will learn how to form and use the Italian present gerund in various contexts, including actions in progress and reasons for actions.

  • The Italian present gerund ends in -ando or -endo and is used with the verb stare.
  • Form the gerund by changing -are verbs to -ando and -ere and -ire verbs to -endo.
  • Use the gerund with stare to describe actions in progress, forming the present and past continuous tenses.
  • Without stare, the gerund explains why, how, or while something happens, often translating to “because,” “by,” or “while.”
  • Irregular gerunds include verbs like bere (drinking: bevendo), dire (saying: dicendo), and fare (doing: facendo).

Quick facts

How do Italian gerunds typically end?

Italian gerunds end in -ando for -are verbs and -endo for -ere and -ire verbs.

When are gerunds used with "stare"?

Gerunds with "stare" describe actions in progress, forming present and past continuous tenses.

What is an example of present continuous in Italian?

"Sto leggendo" translates to "I’m reading," showing an action happening now.

How do you form the past continuous in Italian?

Use the imperfect tense of "stare" plus the gerund, like "Stavano cucinando" (They were cooking).

What are some common irregular gerunds in Italian?

"Bere" becomes "bevendo," "dire" becomes "dicendo," and "fare" becomes "facendo."

How is the gerund used without "stare" in Italian?

Without "stare," gerunds explain why, how, or while something happens, such as "Studiando molto" (Because she studied a lot).

Can you give an example of the gerund explaining "how" in Italian?

"Ho imparato l’italiano vivendo in Italia" means "I learned Italian by living in Italy."

How does the gerund indicate simultaneous actions in Italian?

"Cammina, parlando al telefono" translates to "She walks while speaking on the phone."

What is the present tense conjugation of "stare"?

Present tense conjugation includes "sto," "stai," "sta," "stiamo," "state," "stanno."

How do you conjugate "stare" in the imperfect tense?

Imperfect tense forms are "stavo," "stavi," "stava," "stavamo," "stavate," "stavano."

Audio images

Sto ascoltando la musica.
Lei sta cantando.
Sto studiando per l'esame.




Sto studiando l'italiano.

I am studying Italian.

Lei sta leggendo un libro.

She is reading a book.

Stiamo cucinando la cena.

We are cooking dinner.

Stanno giocando a calcio.

They are playing soccer.

Sto scrivendo una lettera.

I am writing a letter.

My Thoughts

What is the Gerund Mood?

The gerund is a non-finite verbal mood that is extensively used both in English and Italian.

In linguistic, non-finite verbs have no subjects, therefore they have no conjugation. Other examples of non-finite Italian verbs are the infinitive and participle. On the contrary, finite verbs have a conjugation paradigm, that is, a conjugation for each person, like the present tense, past tenses, future tenses etc.

In English, gerunds are easily recognizable because they end in “-ing”, such as “running”, “swimming”, or “thinking”, and can act as nouns, be it subjects or objects of the sentence. For example:

  • As a subject: Running is fun.
  • As an object: Her favorite hobby is reading.

In Italian, gerunds end in -ando or in -endo but they are used differently compared to English. I will explain in detail how we use them, but first, let me give you an overview of this verb mood.

Notice that the Italian verb tense that can act as a noun is the Italian infinitive, not the gerund!

As most verb moods, the gerund has a present tense and a past tense. In this article, I will explain the Italian present gerund, but do not worry: there is an article dedicated to the Italian past gerund as well.

Sto ascoltando la musica.

Italian Present Gerund

How to Form the Present Gerund in Italian

The Italian present gerund follows a pretty regular pattern: first conjugation verbs (ending in -are) form the gerund with -ando, while second and third conjugation verbs (ending in -ere and -ire) form the gerund with -endo.

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

Of course, there are some irregular verbs. Paradoxically, the verbs essere and avere follow a regular pattern, while most of the verbs that end in -rre and the ones that I listed below have a specific form:

  • Bere (to drink): bevendo
  • Dire (to say): dicendo
  • Fare (to do): facendo
  • Comporre (to compose): componendo
  • Tradurre (to translate): traducendo
  • Introdurre (to introduce): introducendo

As you can see, their irregularity is given by the fact that their root changes when being conjugated in the present gerund. Specifically, they add a syllable in the conjugation. This has some historical reasons which I love explaining, so get ready for some pills of linguistics.

When Italian evolved from Latin, it changed some words, of course. However, it kept some original Latin roots in some specific conjugation, like gerundio presente and imperfetto. In fact, dire in Latin was dicere, fare was facere, tradurre was traducere, introdurre was introducere.

Did you notice anything? They all have that extra syllable that we still use now.

If you are interested in the history of the Italian language, I invite you to read more and dive into this world of linguistic evolution.

How to use the Present Gerund in Italian

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In Italian, the present gerund is used in three main cases:

Non posso rispondere ora, sto studiando.

I can’t answer now, I am studying.

Non sono uscito perché stava piovendo.

I did not go out because it was raining.

Staremo cenando a quell’ora.

We will be having dinner at that time.

Depending on the tense of the auxiliary verb, you can create a different type of progressive tense.

  • To express how or why something has been done, creating a cause-consequence relation:

Ho imparato il francese leggendo libri.

I learned French by reading books.

Sono dimagrito mangiando solo frutta e verdura.

I lost weight by eating only fruit and vegetables.

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.

When you use the gerund to express the reason why a result has been obtained, you could translate the gerund with “because” or “since”, like in the last sentence.

  • To express simultaneity between two or more actions:

Io parlo sempre al telefono camminando.

I always speak on the phone while walking.

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.

As you can see, in this contexts it is as if the gerund itself conveys the meaning of “while”.

Lei sta cantando.

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

How can I Learn the Italian Present Gerund?

Are you wondering how you can learn this verb tense? Well, I’ll tell you how: facendo pratica (practicing).

The versatility of the Italian Present Gerund allows you to describe ongoing actions, causal relations, and simultaneous actions, adding depth to your conversations.

Remember that the Italian gerund cannot be used in the same contexts where you would use it in English, so be aware of its proper use to sound like a native speaker.

Embrace these guidelines to unlock a more engaging and accurate way of speaking Italian, enriching both your spoken and written communication skills in this beautiful language.

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions


How to form the Italian present gerund?

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.

How to form the gerund with stare?

Using the present continuous (present tense of the verb stare + gerund verb)or the past continuous (imperfect tense of the verb stare + gerund verb).

How to use the gerund with stare?

For talking about actions in progress either in the present or in the past.

How to use the gerund without stare?

To say why, how, and while something happens or happened.

Italian word of the day
Dalla crisi, molte aziende hanno chiuso.
Because of the financial crisis, many companies shut down.
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