Ciao a tutti! Today we will see:A - What

07/23/2009 - 06:48

Ciao a tutti! Today we will see:

A - What is Gerundio

B - How to translate Gerundio in English


A. Gerundio is the tense which expresses an action made at the same moment of another one. We form Gerundio by adding the suffix -ndo to the verb.


The present form is called Gerundio Presente and is formed adding the "-ndo" suffix to the verb:

"visitando", "tornando"

The past form is called Gerundio Passato or Composto and is formed adding the "-ndo" suffix to the auxiliary "essere" or "avere" and the past participle of the main verb:

"avendo visitato",  "essendo tornato"


B - Gerundio is sometimes translated in English with the Present continuous, but to do that, the form would be:

stare + verb-ndo

to be + verb-ing

Examples are:

Cosa stai facendo? What are you doing?

Sto preparando la cena - I'm cooking the dinner

When you want to translate the Past Continuous you should make the past form of the verb "stare":

Stavamo parlando seriemente  - We were talking seriously.

ATTENTION: you cannot always translate Present or Past Continuous with Gerundio and viceversa (see C):

For example if you are talking about something that youv'e planned to do in the future:

We're going (present continuous) to Italy next month - Andremo (future present) in Italia il mese prossimo.

C - Italians use Gerundio also to explain how they're doing an action. 

Non capirò niente se mi parli gesticolando in quel modo - I won't understand anything if you talk and gesticulate that way.


Further readings could be a previous lesson about the Italian auxiliaries: 

Italian Lesson - past tense in Italian


I may have missed to explain something or I should explain it better, so don't hesitate to ask me any question.

Buona lezione!


Hi Valentina, Thanks for above. Can you explain the subtle difference between using the gerund in the past as opposed to simply just using the imperfect? For example : stavo pensando or pensavo are not necessarily the same and interchangeable are they?....... do you use the former when you want to describe a continous action that was in the process of happening in the past and the imperfect to describe an action or event that was not specifically in the process of happening at that moment of time? If for instance you added mentre befor the imperfect would that make them the same in meaning to a native speakers ear? stavo pensando quando ho avuto un buon idea MENTRE pensavo ho avuto un buon idea In summation what i am trying to understand is when would would it be appropriate to choose the gerund + stare (past progressive) in the past and NOT the imperfect?

Hi Cardi, really not sure about this but think its not correct to use mentre because its already implied........... "Be careful not to combine conjunctions (like mentre) with the gerundio -- this is agrammatical because the gerundio when used in this way implies mentre."

Thanks Karen, very clear with the exception of .........are mentre pensavo and stavo pensando interchangeable ie do they have exactly the same meaning or is there a time as you point out in your post above (3) when stavo pensando is more correct to indicate an action which is in the process of happening when something else happens? (what i am trying to establish is whether the gerund + stare (in imperfect tense) has a precise function in Italian which cannot be substitued by using the imperfect on its own?

1. The examples you give are not strictly speaking gerunds. The English gerund is a verbal noun, i.e. a noun formed from a verb: "Walking is good exercise", "growing your own vegetables is very satisfying".  2. The gerundio presente using 'stare' is known as the present continuous, the form using,  in English: "Sto preparando la cena" = "I am getting dinner ready" 3. The other use, as you say, is to indicate an activity that is/was going on when something else happens/happened: "[quando stava] corriendo nella strada, se e fratturato la gamba" = "[when he was] running in the street, he broke his leg". This is also 4. It is also used adverbially, i.e. to modify a verb, as in your example of "gesticulando" : "parli sempre gesticulando" = you always gesticulate when you speak. N.B. Valentina, you don't say "I may have missed to explain something" in English, you say, "I may have omitted to explain something", or more usually, "I may have missed something out [in my explanation]". Thank you for raising this complicated question, it has stimulated a lot of debate altready!