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When should I use the present participle? (e.g. 'Sto mangiando')

Basically, to avoid making mistakes, you should only use the present participle to describe a situation in which a person is actively doing something in that precise moment. 

For example if someone asked you in Italian ‘what’s your Dad up to?’, you could say: ‘lui sta dormendo’ - he is currently sleeping. 

If you simply used the normal present tense and said ‘lui dorme’, it could be interpreted as ‘he sleeps’ which gives no indication of when he is sleeping, just that in general, he sleeps.

Another thing to watch out for, is to NOT use the present participle to directly translate from English when speaking in the future tense. 

In English, we use the equivalent of the present participle also to express a future action, such as ‘Tomorrow, I am going to the cinema.’

To express this sentence in Italian, you can’t say ‘Domani, sto andando al cinema’, because to say that tomorrow you are currently going to the cinema makes no sense!

Instead you should use the future tense ‘Domani andrò al cinema’ - tomorrow, I will go to the cinema, OR you can also just use the normal present tense: ‘Domani, vado al cinema’ - tomorrow, I go/am going to the cinema.

For more explanations, examples and support, book a session, and I’ll be happy to help!

Katherine M. A Level French tutor, GCSE French tutor, A Level Italian...

11 months ago

Answered by Katherine, a GCSE Italian tutor with MyTutor


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Katherine M. A Level French tutor, GCSE French tutor, A Level Italian...

Katherine M.

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Degree: Modern Languages & Cultures (Bachelors) - Durham University

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“About Me: I am studying for a degree in French & Italian at Durham University. I have always been fascinated by languages, how they work, and the cultures attached to them. I even hold the unpopular opinion that grammar can be fun!  ...”

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