Italian For Beginners: The Continuous Tense

avatarMille Larsen
2 mins read

In English, we use the continuous tense a lot to describe action in the present tense that is occurring right now. Today we're going to continue exploring the Italian forms of "to be" by learning to use the continuous tense.

The continuous tense is formed by using the verb "to be" + a gerund. For example: I am + walking, or she is + dancing.

In Italian, gerunds are made by adding -ndo to the verb stem. The gerund of andare (to go) is andando; and the gerund of leggere (to read) is leggendo.

The continuous tense is one of those special cases of "to be" where we use stare rather than essere. So to say "I am reading", you would say io sto leggendo.

Sto camminando nella stazione ferroviaria.

I am walking in the train station.

Noi stiamo correndo nel parco.

We are running in the park.

Con chi stai parlando al telefono?

With whom are you talking on the phone?

Italian feels pretty comfortable from my English-speaking point of view. The continuous tense seems to be used regularly to describe presently occurring action. That means that instead of having to say io guardo la televisione (I watch tv), I can say io sto guardando la televisione (I am watching tv), which feels more natural to me.

When describing action in the present tense that is happening at the time of speaking, the continuous tense is appropriate in Italian just as in English.