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SHORT GRAMMAR EXPLANATIONS
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The Italian Progressive Form
Italian has a progressive form similar to the
English (although used in fewer tenses). Instead of the auxiliary TO BE (he is reading, he was writing etc.),
Italian uses the verb STARE (to stay) followed by the GERUND. Examples:
◊ Io sto leggendo ≡ I am reading (literally, I stay reading)
Cosa sta facendo? ≡ What is he doing? (literally, what stays he doing?)
Stava piovendo ≡ It was raining (literally, it stayed raining)
The Italian progressive form is mainly used in the
presente (I-am tense) and imperfetto indicativo (I-used-to-be
tense) and, unlike English, is not used at all in the passive. So passive sentences like "I'm being told this is not true" need to be changed to the impersonal form
either by using SI or by introducing a fictitious plural subject THEY.
◊ I'm being told this is not true ≡ Mi si sta dicendo che questo non è vero
◊ I'm being told this is not true ≡ Mi stanno dicendo che questo non è vero
(implied subject: they)
The typical future use of the progressive
form in English has no Italian counterpart. So the Italian rendering of
sentences like I'll be waiting in the room upstairs will make no use
of the progressive form. Instead the sentence may introduce some elements
which point to the fact that there will be some waiting. Here a couple of
◊ Ti aspetto nella stanza di sopra (literally, I
wait for you in the room upstairs)
◊ Rimango ad aspettarti nella stanza di sopra
(literally, I stay and wait for you in the room upstairs)
Quite often the progressive form can be replaced by the non-progressive equivalent.
For this reason, many grammars do not even bother to tell you about the
existence of this tense in Italian.
Question: Cosa stai facendo? ≡ What are you doing?
Answer: Sto leggendo / Leggo
≡ I am reading (lit. I stay reading / I read)
In this example, cosa fai? wouldn't be exactly
equivalent to cosa stai facendo? but in the answer, leggo and
sto leggendo have exactly the same meaning.
- The Definite Article
- Stressed and Unstressed
Direct Object Personal Pronouns
- The Second Person Pronoun TU
- Subject After the Verb
- Negative Form
- The Italian Progressive Form