Click play on the player at the bottom to listen to this podcast or find it on Apple Podcasts.
“Che cosa stai facendo in questo momento?” – What are you doing (right now)?
I remember asking this question to my Italian ex-ragazzo multiple times on the nights when we would both be out with our friends but not with each other.
It usually resulted in him telling me: “Sono in discoteca. Stai arrivando?” – I’m at a nightclub. Are you coming?
The question I would start the conversation with uses the gerund tense with “stai facendo.”
It’s used to express what is happening in the moment.
And as you know in English, we use words in the -ing form A LOT.
Oh where are you going??I’m going to the store.
What are you buying?
I’m buying eggs.
And so on + so forth.
In Italian, they use this -ing form less frequently than we do, but it’s still really common.
Knowing when to use the gerund tense and the present tense just comes with practice in conversation.
How to form it
Secondo me, and in comparison to the other tenses the gerund is one of the simplest tenses to form.
However, that depends on how well you know the other verb tenses.
Boh. Italian grammar.
As long as you know how to conjugate the verb stare – to stay, you’re ready to conjugate the gerund.
Step 1 – Conjugate stare.
If you’re talking about yourself, use sto, if you’re talking about an object or person, use sta, and if you’re talking about you and a group of friends, use stiamo.
Step 2 – Select the verb you want to use.
Are you eating a plate of pasta? Use mangiare. Is the man cooking? Use cuocere. Is your group of friends cleaning? Use pulire.
Step 3 – Change the ending of the second verb.
– verbs that end in “are” (like cantare – to sing) are changed to end in -“ando”
– verbs that end in “ere” and “ire” (like ripetere – to repeat/mentire – to lie) are changed to end in -“endo”
These forms never change to agree with anything. They’re invariable.
Not sure what it means for words to agree? Open up this article.
Step 4 – Combine the conjugated form of stare with the verb with the correct ending.
– I am cooking. – Sto cuocendo.
– She is laughing. – Sta ridendo.
– They are driving. – Stanno guidando.
Here are a few more examples:
— Sto cantando una canzone di Mina. – I’m singing a song by Mina (in this moment).
— Stai mangiando un cannolo. – You are eating a cannoli (in this moment).
— Sta uscendo. – He/she is going out (in this moment).
— Lo sto facendo. – I’m doing it (in this moment).
— Stiamo camminando per il centro della città. – We are walking in the city center (in this moment).
— State studiando l’inglese. – You are studying English (in this moment).
— Stanno leggendo un libro di Paulo Coelho. – They are reading a book by Paulo Coelho (in this moment).
Where do the pronouns – like “mi”, “ti”, “ci” etc. or the articles “la”, “le”… – go in this tense?
They can either go before —
— Mi stai parlando? – Are you talking to me?
–Stai parlandomi? – Are you talking to me?
Which one is more common?
The first one – Mi stai parlando.
To form the basic gerund tense, that’s all you need!
Comunque, you can also use the gerund on its own.
Using the gerund by itself
If you just use it by itself, it can get a little complicated.
You could say something like “I’m drinking a glass of wine while listening to the radio.”
But you technically wouldn’t need the word “while.”
In Italiano, you would say: “Bevo un bicchiere di vino ascoltando la radio.”
It would stay the same even it was the past/imperfect/future tense.
So you could say
— Past tense – “Ho bevuto un bicchiere di vino ascoltando la radio.”
— Future tense – Berrò un bicchiere di vino ascoltando la radio.”
Here are two quotes that express what we just learned from one of my favorite books by Fabio Volo Il Giorno in Più.
“Sono sicuro, nel sonno, di svegliarmi in una casa in riva al mare, dove ho trascorso tutta la notte con la donna che amo, vivendo con lei momenti di assoluta felicità.”
Translation: “By living with her (I experience) moments of absolute happiness”.
“Mi sveglio invece in una camera d’albergo a Parigi e, pur sapendo ormai di uscire da un sogno, continuo a sentire il delicato rumore delle onde del mare.”
Translation: Though I already knew I was leaving a dream…
Using the “gerundio” at the beginning of a sentence
You could also use the gerundio at the beginning of a sentence.
Facendo footing, dimagrisce. – By jogging, she loses weight.
Essendo troppo magra, cerco di ingrassare. – Since I’m too skinny, I try to put on weight.
What does it mean when you use “pur” + the gerundio?
When you use “pur + the gerundio,” it means “though” or “even though.”
Pur avendo tante macchine, ne vuole un’altra ancora. – Even though he has many cars, he still wants another one.
Irregular conjugations of verbs in the present tense
— Addurre – to advance – adducendo
— Adempiere – to fulfill – adempiendo
— Bere – to drink – bevendo
— Dire – to say – dicendo
— Fare – to do/make – facendo
How to talk about something that’s about to happen
If you want to say that something is going to happen in the immediate future, like the train is about to arrive, it’s even easier.
The only thing you need to conjugate is stare, which you already know how to do.
Add per and the full verb (infinitive) expressing what’s about to happen, and you’re done!
– Il treno sta per arrivare. – The train is about to arrive.
– Sto per pulire. – I am about to clean.
– Stai per vedere. – You are about to see.
Tell me two things you’re doing right now in Italian using the gerundio in the comments below.
If you think it isn’t interesting, make something up. :]
Have questions? Drop them below!