7

Suppose I want to translate an English sentence like "I have walked in the park for a year." The first though I had was translating the sentence as follows.

Ho camminato nel parco per un anno.

It seems correct, except for the fact that Present Perfect is used to talk about a past event that is still relevant for the present. That means the sentence I used as example would be understood as saying that I am still walking in the park. Similarly, "I have gone to that store since I was a teenager." would mean I am still going to that store.
That is not the meaning of "ho camminato nel parco per un anno" which means I am not walking anymore in the park.

I thought of using the Simple Past, but I am not sure how to use it with a time reference. Apart that, camminavo nel parco still means I am not anymore walking.

How should I translate the Present Perfect used in English?

  • Present perfect is not the tense used for a continuous/ongoing action. That'd be the present progressive. I am not walking in the park anymore is the present progressive tense. And, I have gone to that store since I was a teenager, does not mean you're still going to that store; it means that you went to that store either multiple times or that you went at some (for whatever reason) unspecified point in time. You can use the simple past for I've walked in the park for a year because it's finite. Present perfect (in English) does not have to be relevant to the present. – Giambattista Nov 21 '13 at 23:29
  • @Giambattista I am walking in the park is different from I have walked in the park. Then, generally speaking, the Present Perfect tense does have a relevance with what I am doing at the present time. If I say I was at home since 5 o'clock. it means I was not home at some time later; if I say I have been home since 5 o'clock. it means I am still at home. – kiamlaluno Jan 1 '18 at 13:16
6

Both your examples sound good in the present tense:

Cammino nel parco da un anno.

I walk in the park and I've been doing it for the last year. It does not imply I'm walking in the park right now.

Vado in quel negozio da quando ero adolescente.

Same as above, I've been going to that shop since I was a teenager and I still do it but I'm not necessarily going to the shop right now.

| improve this answer | |
  • " I am still going to that store." doesn't mean I am going to the store in the moment I am talking, or when I am writing it. It just means I am still going nowadays, same as vado in quel negozio da quando ero adolescente. +1 – kiamlaluno Nov 11 '13 at 12:28
  • 3
    "Cammino nel parco da un anno" could also imply that you have been continuously walking in the park for a year. Although the meaning is obvious in this specific example, I would rather use something like "Da un anno a questa parte vado a camminare nel parco". – nico Nov 11 '13 at 17:49
  • I had the same exact thought as @nico; if you were to tell me, I've been walking in the park for a year without additional context, I might think, as I did when I read your question, that you've been continuously walking in the park for a year. The meaning is obvious, but it is ambiguous nonetheless. – Giambattista Nov 21 '13 at 23:33
6

Present perfect is translated in Italian with passato prossimo when:

  • there is an implicit link between past and present, the action is completed an the focus is on the effects of the action

    I have cleaned up the room.
    Ho pulito la stanza.

  • with just, already, yet, still, ever

    We have just married.
    Ci siamo appena sposati.
    or
    Have you ever played tennis?
    Hai mai giocato a tennis?

You will translate it with present when you speak about duration, as in your example:

I have walked in the park for a year.
Cammino nel parco da un anno.

| improve this answer | |
  • Yes, while passato prossimo is probably the equivalent of the Present Perfect tense in most of the cases, in the last example I could not write Ho camminato nel parco da un anno. At least at my ears, that sounds wrong. +1 (which I have already given time ago). – kiamlaluno Jan 1 '18 at 13:21
0

Suppose I want to translate an English sentence like "I have walked in the park for a year." The first though[t] I had was translating the sentence as follows.

Ho camminato nel parco per un anno.

It seems correct, except for the fact that Present Perfect is used to talk about a past event that is still relevant for the present. That means the sentence I used as example would be understood as saying that I am still walking in the park. […] That is not the meaning of "ho camminato nel parco per un anno" which means I am not walking anymore in the park.

Actually, “Ho camminato nel parco per un anno,” is the correct translation of, “I have walked in the park for a year.” To say in English that you are still walking in the park, the sentence would have to be, “I have been walking in the park for a year.”

Also, you misunderstood what “still relevant for the present” means. “I have closed the door,” doesn’t mean that I’m still closing the door. It means I closed the door, and it is still closed (this is true for the present perfect of both languages).

Similarly, "I have gone to that store since I was a teenager." would mean I am still going to that store.

No, again, that would be, “I have been going to that store.” In fact, “?I have gone to that store since I was a teenager,” is a sentence of rather dubious acceptability.

| improve this answer | |
-2

There is a real problem when translating the Present Perfect tense into Italian. "Ho camminato nel parco per un anno." is the Passato Prossimo which, in the North of Italy represents the simple past tense. Should it be translated as "I walked in the park for a year", or "I have walked in the park for a year"?

Northern Italians mostly never use the Passato Remoto so, in reality the have only one simple past tense - just like in English.

Conversely, in the South of Italy people almost invariably use the Passato Remoto and almost never the Passato Prossimo. This means they too have only one simple past tense - just like in English.

In spite of practically everything written on the Internet on this matter, the Italian Passato Prossimo is not equivalent to the English Present Perfect. The Passato Prossimo is the recent past, while the Passato Remoto is the distant past.

How recent or distant the past may be is irrelevant to the English Present Perfect tense. We make no distinction between recent and distant past. The consequence or relevance to the present in the Present Perfect tense is not affected by how recent or distant the event or action was.

The examples as follows demonstrate the problem of translation:

  1. Peter went to Venice this morning (Simple Past tense)

  2. Peter has gone to Venice this morning (Present Perfect tense)

The context in (1) and the information are entirely in the past (even if the recent past). It says nothing about the present. We know that Peter went to Venice, but we say nothing about where he might be now. We cannot infer anything about the present.

The context in (2) is "this morning" (the present) and the information is in the present about an action started earlier (i.e. in the past). We can safely infer, in the present, that Peter is either in Venice or in transit.

However, the casual translator will translate both as: Peter è andato a Venezia questa mattina

| improve this answer | |
  • 4
    “The Passato Prossimo is the recent past, while the Passato Remoto is the distant past”: in Italian? Not quite. Reading this and this should be quite helpful. Admittedly, regional use varies, but Standard Italian has a precise distinction among the two tenses, and it is not the one given. – DaG Jul 11 '16 at 19:57
  • @DaG It is also used for that, as in Ieri mattina sono passato da mia zia. I would not say Ieri mattina andai da mia zia. It can also be used for something happened in a distant past, though. So, yes, that distinction is pretty wrong. – kiamlaluno Jan 2 '18 at 13:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.