The present progressive: Italian grammar lesson


Key Takeaways

Dive into the world of Italian and master the present progressive tense! This guide will show you how to express actions happening right this second with ease. Get ready to add that Italian flair to your conversations!

– **Learn the Basics**: The Italian present progressive is like the English “-ing” form. Use it for stuff happening right now, like “Sto mangiando” for “I am eating.” 🍝
– **Conjugate “Stare”**: This tense’s BFF is the verb “stare.” Get cozy with forms like “sto,” “stai,” and “stanno” to set the stage for action.
– **Gerund Magic**: Add “-ando” to -are verbs and “-endo” to -ere/-ire verbs to create the gerund. “Parlare” becomes “parlando,” and “leggere” turns into “leggendo.” Abracadabra! ✨
– **Spot the Oddballs**: Watch out for the rebels! “Fare,” “dire,” and “bere” break the rules with gerunds like “facendo,” “dicendo,” and “bevendo.”
– **Reflexive Verbs**: Got reflexive verbs? Stick the pronoun before “stare” or attach it to the gerund. “Mi sto divertendo” means “I’m having fun.” 😎
– **Right Time, Right Tense**: Only whip out the present progressive when you’re talking about actions in the now. It’s not for future plans or habitual stuff.
– **Keep It Simple**: Remember, the present progressive is for the “here and now.” Stick with “stare” plus gerund, and you’re golden. 🌟

Now go forth and chat up a storm in Italian like a pro! 🇮🇹

Quick facts

How is the Italian present progressive formed?

Combine the present indicative of "stare" with the gerund form of the main verb.

What suffix is added to -are verbs to form the gerund?

Add the suffix -ando to the root of -are verbs, like "parlare" becoming "parlando."

What suffix is added to -ere and -ire verbs to form the gerund?

Use the suffix -endo for -ere and -ire verbs, like "leggere" becoming "leggendo."

Which auxiliary verb is used in the Italian present progressive?

The auxiliary verb "stare" is used, conjugated in the present indicative.

Are there irregular gerunds in Italian?

Yes, "fare" becomes "facendo," "dire" becomes "dicendo," and "bere" becomes "bevendo."

How do reflexive verbs function in the present progressive?

Place reflexive pronouns before "stare" or attach them to the gerund, though the former is more common.

Is the present progressive commonly used in Italian?

No, it is less common and primarily used for actions happening right now.

Why might you use the present progressive over the simple present in Italian?

Use it to emphasize an action occurring at this very moment, adding urgency or specificity.

Can the present progressive be used for future actions in Italian?

No, future actions require specific future tenses, unlike in English.

What is a key difference between "Che stanno facendo?" and "Che fanno?"

"Che stanno facendo?" asks about the current action, while "Che fanno?" can inquire about general activities.

My Thoughts

What is the present progressive?

If you need to say something that is happening right now, you’ll need to use the present progressive in Italian (presente progressivo).

It is equivalent to the English verb ending “-ing” when used with the present tense of to be, as in “I am walking.”

Because this is a fairly common tense, you should be able to memorize the conjugations right away.

The disadvantage is that it is not as commonly used as the other Italian tenses; you should only use this tense for things that are happening at this moment.

When talking about the present, you usually just use the ordinary present tense.

That’s why, before moving on to the present progressive, it’s a good idea to understand the regularand irregular present tense conjugations and their functions.

This Italian lesson will assume you’ve done so and are familiar with the Italian subject pronouns (io — I, tu — you, and so on).

The present progressive tense is also known as the present continuous, and the main verb in this form is also known as a gerund.

Learn more about the gerund here.

How to form the progressive tense in Italian?

The Italian present progressive is made up of two separate parts: the present indicative of the auxiliary verb stare, and the Italian gerund (the present participle) of the verb.

The Italian verb Stare is conjugated as follows:

io sto
tu stai
lui/lei sta
noi stiamo
voi state
loro stanno

But what about the gerund? No worries. It’s simple, just as in English.

Verbs ending in -are form the gerund by adding the suffix -ando to the root of the verb, for example:

  • giocare (to play) – giocando
  • lavorare (to work) – lavorando
  • parlare (to talk) – parlando

Verbs ending in -ere/-ire form the gerund by adding the suffix -endo to the root of the verb form, like:

  • leggere (to read) – leggendo
  • ridere (to laugh) – ridendo
  • venire (to go) – venendo
  • dormire (to sleep) – dormendo

More examples:

Sto cercando il mio portafoglio.

I’m looking for my wallet.

(Loro) Stanno giocando a calcio.

They’re playing football.

(Lui) Sta leggendo.

He’s reading.

(Loro) Stanno dormendo.

They’re sleeping.

Cosa stai facendo?

What are you doing?

Perche’ non state ridendo?

Why aren’t you laughing?

Like other Italian sentences, if the subject pronoun is obvious from the context, you don’t have to say it.

The only irregular verbs are the three listed below:

  • Fare (to do or make)- facendo
  • Dire (to tell)- dicendo
  • Bere (to drink)- bevendo

Cosa stai dicendo?

What are you saying?

Stiamo facendo i biscotti.

We are making cookies.

Marco sta bevendo del vino.

Marco is drinking some wine.

Reflexive verbs can also have a progressive form. In this case, the reflexive pronouns can be put either before the verb stare or attached to the gerund.

It is more common, though, to place them before stare.

Io mi sto divertendo.

I’m having fun.

Ti stai divertendo?

Are you having fun?

Maria ed io ci stiamo annoiando.

Maria and I are getting bored.

When to use the present progressive in Italian?

Before using the progressive tense, ask yourself: do I want to highlight that this action is taking place right now?

For instance, I could say:

Che stanno facendo?

What are they doing?

This would not be a way for me to ask about what they do for fun or a living. I want to know what they are doing right now.

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The question could be viewed as more urgent or worried than if I had asked:

Che fanno?

What are they doing?/What do they do?

Both translations are possible. May this question have the same meaning as Che stanno facendo? Above.

But depending on the context, it may also lead to more general questions about what they do in general (in life, what they enjoy, etc.).

It’s important to remember that you don’t use the present continuous to talk about the near future, as you would in English with a statement like “I’m going to the shopping mall tomorrow.”

Talking about the future in Italian requires the use of different future tenses (typically the future indicative); find out more about it here.

Practice with Quizlet

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

Key points

In Italian, only use the present progressive for actions that are taking place right now.

To make it, use the present simple tense of stare and the gerund of the main verb.

Remember to check out also how to form the counterpart past progressive in Italian.

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions

How to form the Italian present progressive?

Present indicative of the auxiliary verb stare + Italian gerund (the present participle) of the verb.

When to use the Italian present progressive?

Only for actions that are taking place right now.

Italian word of the day
Hai la febbre! Sì, mi è venuta l’influenza.
You have a fever! Yes, I got influenza.
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