Chapter 9 - The “ing” form of verbs

Similar to English, the “ing” form of a verb is formed by taking the stem of a verb, and adding an ending.  An example from English is the verb “change”.  We drop the letter “e”, and add the ending “ing” to the stem “chang-” which forms “changing”.  In other cases, such as the verb “walk”, we just add “ing” to form “walking”.  A similar process occurs in Italian, namely that certain endings are added to the verb stems.

With one exception (the verb essere), all of the “ing” verb forms, called gerunds, are formed by using the tu form of the imperfect past tense as the source of the stem.  The imperfect past tense ending is dropped, leaving the stem.  Then, the ending (-ndo) is added to make the gerund.

Pronunciation note:  Without exception, all gerunds are accented on the second to last vowel.

Group 1 verbs end in -are.  Using the verb parlareas the example, the tu form of the imperfect past tense of  parlare is parlavi.  The stem is parla-, and the ending is -vi.  The ending is dropped, and the stem (parla-) is used to form the gerund.  Thus,  parla + ndo = parlando.

            other examples from this group follow (the stem is shown in bold type)
            Infinitive                                 Imperfect                    Gerund
            dare, to give                            davi                             dando
            presentare, to present              presentavi                    presentando
            saltare, to jump                       saltavi                          saltando

In group 1, there are no exceptions.

Group 2 verbs end in -ere or -rre.  Using the verb sapereas the example, the tuform of the imperfect past tense of sapereis sapevi.  The stem is sape-, and the ending is -vi.  The ending is dropped, and the stem
(sape-) is used to form the gerund.  Thus, sape + ndo = sapendo.

            other examples from this group follow (the stem is shown in bold type)
            Infinitive                                 Imperfect                    Gerund
            assụmere, to assume               assumevi                     assumendo
            chiụdere, to close                    chiudevi                      chiudendo
            scrịvere, to write                     scrivevi                        scrivendo

Using the verb addurreas the example, the tuform of the imperfect past tense of addurreis adducevi.  The stem is adduce-, and the ending is -vi.  The ending is dropped, and the stem (adduce-) is used to form the gerund.  Thus, adduce + ndo = adducendo.

            other examples from this group follow (the stem is shown in bold type)
            Infinitive                                 Imperfect                    Gerund
            porre, to put                            ponevi                         ponendo
            produrre, to produce               producevi                    producendo
            trarre, to draw                                    traevi                           traendo

In group 2, the only exception is the verb ęssere, the gerund of which is essendo.

 

Originally, all of the verbs which are forms of the verb dire and fare were part of group two.  For the purposes of forming the gerund, they are still classified in that way.  Thus
            Infinitive                                 Imperfect                    Gerund
            dire, to say                              dicevi                           dicendo
Like dire:
                                benedire, to bless                                                                 contraddire, to contradict
                                disdire, to retract                                                                 interdire, to interdict, prohibit
                                maledire, to curse                                                                predire, to predict
                                ridire, to repeat                                                                    ribenedire, to bless again
            fare, to do                               facevi                           facendo
                Like fare:
                assuefare, to accustom, inure                           contraffare, to counterfeit                 disassuefare, to give up a habit
                disfare, to undo                                                   liquefare, to liquify                          putrefare, to putrify
                rarefare, to rarefy                                               rifare, to do over, repeat                 sfare, to undo, to thaw, melt
                soddisfare, to satisfy                                          soprafare, to overwhelm                   strafare, to do too much, overdo
                stupefare, to stupefy                                           torrefare, to roast                             tumefare, to swell

Group 3 verbs end in -ire.  Using the verb partireas the example, the tuform of the imperfect past tense of partireis partivi.  The stem is parti-, and the ending is -vi.  The final “i” of the stem is changed to “e”, making the stem parte-.  Thus, parte + ndo= partendo.
            other examples from this group follow (the stem is shown in bold type)
            Infinitive                                 Imperfect                    Gerund
            finire, to end                            finivi                            finendo
            venire, to come                        venivi                           venendo
In group 3, there are no exceptions (dire and its compounds are treated as part of group 2).

The use of the gerunds in Italian is quite different than English, and they are used far less frequently.
1. with the verb stare (to be), and with verbs of motion to stress that an activity is in progress.
            Io sto parlando.                                               I am talking.
            Continuiamo studiando italiano.                    We continue studying Italian.
Past forms (such as Io stavo parlando; I was talking) are generally replaced by the imperfect tense.
2. to indicate the means the action of the main verb was carried out
            Lei rispose indicando la direziọne.                 She replied by indicating the direction.
3. to indicate an attitude
            Parlando francamẹnte, mi dispiace.               Speaking frankly, it doesn’t please me.
4. to explain the circumstances surrounding the main verb
            Essendo a servizio da molto, la mạcchina è logora.   Being in service a long time, the car is worn out.
            Vincendo la corsa, la squadra celebrava.                  Upon winning the race, the team celebrated.

In English, gerunds are often used to describe things (“a winding road”).  When these usages occur in Italian, the gerund will have a slightly different form, with the ending “do” replaced by “te
            example:          l’esercito occupante (the occupying army)

After prepositions, the infinitive, not the gerund, is used.
            She entered without saying anything.            Lei entrò senza dire niente.
            We talked instead of  playing tennis.             Parlammo in vece di giocare tennis.

In English, it is common to use gerunds as the names of things, especially in reference to activities.  In these cases, Italian uses the infinitive, not the gerund.
            example:          Swimming is good exercise.   Nuotare è buon esercicio.