The present participle

The present participle of all regular –are verbs (and of andare, dare, and stare) ends in –ando (parlando), and that of nearly all the other verbs, regular and irregular, ends in –endo (vendendo, sentendo, facendo).

The present participle is invariable and is usually translated by the English participle ending in –ing, either alone or preceded by a preposition such as “by,” “in,” “on,” “upon,” or “while”

Essendo vecchio, egli non lavora più. – Being old, he does not work any more.

Studiando, s’impara. – By studying, one learns.

Egli mangiava camminando. – He was eating while walking.


The present participle is sometimes used after the present or imperfect of stare to indicate that an action is or was in progress.

Sto leggendo. – I am (in the act of) reading.

Stavano mangiando. — They were (in the act of) eating.


In English, the present progressive is common and used very frequently, whereas in Italian it is used in specific instances.

In Italian, the present progressive is used for things that are happening explicitly in that very moment.

If one is speaking about something that one is doing in general (I’m going to the store. I am buying some bread.) – Vado al supermercato. Compro del pane.) – in English, it is common to express this in the present progressive (in English, we do not say: “I go to the store. I buy some bread.”). In Italian, however, the present tense would be used in this instance – we are speaking about a present action (presently you are going to the store and buying bread).

If one were to use the present progressive in Italian (“Sto comprando del pane.”), it implies that one is in the check out lane, being rung up, handing over the money for the bread – literally in the midst of the action of buying bread, doing it in that moment.

To put it another way, in English, these nuances are essentially interchangeable. One can use the present progressive to speak about things in the present generally, and things that are happening in this very moment. 

In Italian, these nuances are not interchangeable. One would only use the present progressive to describe actions that are in the midst of occurring.


consciousness; conscience; conscientiousness
to believe
lie, falsehood
hater (cf. odiare, to hate)
tirannide (= tirannia)
tyranny; despotism; oppression


to increase, to grow
to blush
decidersi a
to make up one’s mind
to impress, to imprint
mente (f.)
mind (irreg.)
very well
reward, recompense, prize
si tolse
took off (3d. sing. past abs., togliersi)



Italian for Reading & Translation Copyright © by Lauren Surovi and Carleton W. Carroll. All Rights Reserved.

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