We bet you’ve always looked for a complete and clear lesson on the gerund, isn’t it true? And could we not help you? In this video lesson you will discover all the secrets about the Italian gerund!
HOW TO FORM THE GERUND
The gerund is a rather simple verbal mood, which consists only in 2 tenses: present and past.
The present of verbs in -ARE is formed with the ending -ando.
mangiare → mangiando
parlare → parlando
The present of verbs in -ERE is formed with the ending -endo.
scrivere → scrivendo
leggere → leggendo
The present of verbs in -IRE is formed with the ending -endo.
partire → partendo
finire → finendo
The past, instead, is formed with the present gerund of the auxiliaries (essendo and avendo) + past participle of the verb.
avendo fatto, essendo andato…
Doubts about when to use ESSERE and AVERE as auxiliaries? Review it with us!
HOW AND WHEN TO USE THE GERUND
The gerund is generally used in the subordinate sentence when the subject of the main clause and the subject of the subordinate clause is the same (there are exceptions, but we will see them later).
Now let’s see in which cases it’s used:
1. To express the way in which something happens
Sono dimagrita mangiando solo verdura. (I lost weight by eating only vegetables → I lost weight… in which way? By eating only vegetables)
2. To express a cause
Avendo avuto la febbre, Marta non è uscita di casa per giorni. (Having had flu, Marta didn’t go out for some days → Since she had flu, she didn’t go out for some days)
3. To express a condition
Ascoltando i consigli di chi ha più esperienza, si arriva lontano. (You will go far by listening to the advice of those who have more experience → If you listen to the advice of those who have more experience, you will go far)
4. With temporal meaning
Facendo la doccia, Laura pensa alle sue esperienze passate. (By taking a shower, Laura thinks about her past experiences → When she takes a shower, she thinks about her past experiences)
Andando in bici, ho incontrato Paolo. (By having a bike ride, I met Paolo → While I was having a bike ride, I met Paolo)
5. To express a concession
Pur non avendo fame, ho mangiato. (→ Although I wasn’t hungry, I ate)
Be careful! In this last case pur is always added before the gerund!
If you want further clarification on this use in particular, watch our video about concessive conjunctions!
Now, as you might have noticed, the subject of the main and the subordinate sentence is the same in all of the examples. In fact, when we have different subjects, we tend not to use the gerund.
Mentre io faccio la doccia, Laura pensa alle esperienze passate. (While I’m taking a shower, Laura thinks about her past experiences)
Be careful, though!!!
Actually, it would be possible to use the gerund even with two different subjects, but we must make them explicit!
Avendo Marta avuto la febbre, siamo andati tutti a trovarla. (Since Marta had flu, we all visited her)
Pur non avendo io fame, mia madre ha mangiato. (Although I wasn’t hungry, my mother ate)
This kind of construction might be less fluent, but it’s still correct!
We find the gerund also in 2 important structures:
1. STARE + gerund, which indicates an action carried out in a given moment.
– Che fai? (What are you doing?)
– Sto mangiando un panino! (I’m eating a sandwich!)
Be careful! To indicate an action in progress in the past we use the imperfect of STARE + gerund present (and not past!)
Quando mi hai chiamato, stavo parlando con Luca. (When you called me, I was speaking with Luca)
2. ANDARE + gerund, which indicates an action that takes place in an indefinite time: it began at some time in the past, continues in the present and will probably continue in the future.
Giovanni va dicendo che la sua fidanzata lo tradiva. (Giovanni is spreading rumors that his girlfriend cheated on him → we don’t know when the action started neither when it will finish, but it’s a continued action)
Now that you’ve learned the gerund, have a look at the Italian imperative, too!