Present VS Present Progressive (stare + gerundio) in Italian

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

How would you say I am going in Italian? Well, you could say both "vado" and "sto andando" depending on the context. Let's see how it works!

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Ciao a tutti and welcome to a new article. In today's article, we are going to discuss the use of present and present progressive in Italian starting from the English I am going.

Pretty much in English, you can use I am going for two reasons: if you're going somewhere right now, at this very moment, or if you will go somewhere, like if you're going to the beach next weekend.

Unfortunately in Italian, we can't translate these two concepts in the same way, but we have two different tenses to express these two different ideas.

Let's start with the present and let's look at an example:

  • Vado al mare questo weekend → I am going to the beach this weekend (note we tend to use al mare vs in spiaggia)

Here I am using the present because although I am saying I am going in English, this is seen as a planned future. So yes, I am using the present to express a future action, mindblowing, isn't it?

However, this is no normal future! It's a very specific type of future that I like to call planned future. You have planned to go to the beach, you've made this decision a few days ago, you know where you're going and who you're going with. Let's look at some other examples:

  • Parto per gli Stati Uniti l'anno prossimo → I am leaving for the United States next year.

  • Che fai stasera? → What are you doing tonight?

  • Vieni con noi a Roma domani? → Are you coming to Rome with us tomorrow?

So, the question is: when would we use the actual translation of I am going in Italian? The actual present progressive? Well, it's very easy! We use our present progressive when we want to express the idea of an action that is happening right now, in this very moment. For example:

  • Sto andando a lavoro. Ci sentiamo dopo! → I am going to work. Talk to you later!

In this case, you're actually going to work now, maybe you are in the car driving there, or exiting your house to go to work. It's happening right now. Before looking at some other examples, let's see real quick how to form the present progressive in Italian.

First, you need to conjugate the verb stare in the present, that is going to be the I am part of this tense. As you can see, in English you use the verb to be, but we use the verb stare instead. Let's conjugate the verb "stare" in the present:

Io sto

Tu stai

Lui/Lei sta

Noi stiamo

Voi state

Loro stanno

After you have done this, you will need to add the gerundio of the verb you are conjugating. Except for irregular gerunds, forming the gerundio is very easy. You remove the ending of the infinitive and then add the endings of gerundio that are:

  • ANDO → ARE verbs

  • ENDO → ERE verbs

  • ENDO → IRE verbs

So for example:

  • Parlare → parlando

  • Cadere → cadendo

  • Sentire → sentendo

So the present progressive for the verb parlare would be:

Io sto parlando

Tu stai parlando

Lui/Lei sta parlando

Noi stiamo parlando

Voi state parlando

Loro stanno parlando

Now let's look at some other example sentences:

  • Sto mangiando la pizza. Vuoi una fetta? → I am having a pizza. Do you want a slice? (note we always use the verb "mangiare" (to eat) in Italian when we are having food).

  • Che stai facendo? → What are you doing?

  • Luca e Gianni stanno giocando con i Lego. → Luca and Gianni are playing with Legos.

Tutto chiaro? I hope this makes sense! If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message in the contact section of my website. A presto!

Teacher Stefano