The Present Progressive in English
In English, it is the auxiliary verb “to be” and the present participle.
In plain English, the “present participle” means verbs with “ing” attached to the end of the verb. The present tense is used much more frequently in English than it is used in Italian.
The Present Progressive in Italian
As in Italian, we use it to talk about actions that are in progress now or right now. However, in English, we also use the present progressive tense to describe habitual actions or to speak in general. For example:
She is taking Italian lessons.
I am reading a book.
You are working in the office.
Normally in Italian, the present tense is used to emphasize that an action is taking place now. But many Italian grammar books do not indicate that there is another use for the present progressive tense. And that the present progressive tense can be used to stress that action is continuous…
Since the Italian grammar books teach you that the Italian present progressive tense is only used to describe actions that are in progress right now, probably you will not use the present progressive tense to say that “I am learning Italian.”
Because you are not learning Italian at that specific moment. Therefore you will say:
But the right expression is:
Sto studiando l’Italiano.
How to Form the Italian Present Progressive
As you can see in Italian, we form the present progressive tense by conjugating the verb “stare” with the present gerund (gerundio presente).
You form regular “are” present gerund by dropping the “are” and adding “ando” to the root of the verb:
So “gioc-are” (to play) becomes “gioc-ando”, “ballare” (to dance) becomes “ballando”, etc.
|I ragazzi stanno giocando a pallone.
The boys are playing football.
|La coppia sta ballando un valzer.
The couple is dancing the waltz.
And you form regular “-ere” present gerund by dropping the “-ere” and adding “-endo” to the verb root:
“Ved-ere” (to see) becomes “ved-endo“, “vendere” (to sell) becomes “vend-endo“, etc.
|La neve sta cadendo copiosa.
Snow is falling heavily.
|Giorgio sta vendendo casa.
Giorgio is selling his house.
Similarly, the present gerund of verbs terminating in ire is created by adding the suffix “endo”:
|Il bambino sta dormendo.
The baby is sleeping.
|Sto finendo un lavoro.
I’m finishing up a job.
The uncle is working. = El tío está trabajando.
The father-in-law is dancing. = El suegro está bailando.
The stepmother is cooking the lobster. = La madrastra está cocinando la langosta.
The grandson is doing nothing. = El nieto no está haciendo nada.
You are washing the windows. = Tú estás limpiando las ventanas.
Conjugation of the Verb “Stare”
Here’s the conjugation of the verb “stare”, which, in this case, it is an auxiliary and corresponds more or less to the verb to be in English.
|io sto||I am||noi stiamo||we are|
|tu stai||you are||voi state||you are|
|lei, lui sta||she, he is||loro stanno||they are|
|Lei (polite form)||she, he is||Loro stanno||They|
Grammar note: This verb is used in Italian with another meaning that corresponds roughly to the English verb “to stay”.
Italian Present Progressive Exercises
So, now that you know the present tense of “stare” and how to form the present gerund of Italian verbs, you can take the following exercises. Try to translate the following phrases into Italian:
Learn the Italian Present Progressive through a Catchy Song
L’estate Sta Finendo – The Summer Is Ending
|L’estate sta finendo
e un anno se ne va
sto diventando grande,
lo sai che non mi va.In spiaggia di ombrelloni
non ce ne sono più
è il solito rituale
ma ora manchi tu.Languidi brividi
come il ghiaccio bruciano
quando sto con te. Baciami,
siamo due satelliti
in orbita sul mar.È tempo che i gabbiani
arrivino in città…
L’estate sta finendo,
lo sai che non mi va.
Io sono ancora solo,
L’estate sta finendo
L’estate sta finendo
|Summer is ending
And a year goes by,
I’m getting older
you know I don’t want to.There are no more umbrellas
on the beach,
it’s the usual ritual
but now you’re missing.Languid shivers
like ice burn
When I’m with you. Kiss me,
we are two satellites
in orbit over the sea.It’s time for the seagulls
come to town…
Summer is ending,
you know I don’t want to
I’m still alone,
Summer is ending
Summer is ending
Learn the Italian Gerund through another Catchy Italian Song
Here’s a song that is sung by Luca Barbarossa with the title of the tense: “Gerundio” (gerund):
|Intendo cantando in gerundio
Che pendo nel mondo
E mentendo mi vendo,
Girando, correndo e saltando.
Volendo o nolendo,
Vivendo mi spendo, sudando.
Finire col dire d’amare
E tu che mi credevi un pazzo
Ma forse tutto quanto questo già lo sai
|I mean singing in the gerund
That I hang in the world
And lying I sell myself
Turning running and jumping.
Wanting or not wanting
Living I spend myself sweating.
Ending up saying I love
And you thought I was crazy
But maybe all this you already know