In English it is very common to use the present-conjugation of 'to be' plus the ing-gerund form of the verb to describe an action in progress.

Ex: "I am talking to Tom".

Would both of the following be correct?

1) Parlo con/a Tom 2) Sto parlando con/a Tom

In contrast, if I wanted to say: "I talk to Tom", meaning that I am not currently talking to him, but on occasion we talk with each other, how would you differentiate that from Parlo con Tom?

This is just an example using one verb, but I would like to know when either case is more appropriate.

  • 2
    Both are correct, depending on the context. The “progressive form” with the gerund is not used as much as in English. For instance, I'm living in Milan would be abito a Milano; conversely, in order to express that I'm talking to Tom in this precise moment, sto parlando con Tom is correct.
    – egreg
    Jul 26, 2016 at 13:40
  • Would "Parlo con Tom" just mean that I speak with Tom but not necessarily at this moment? Is it common to use this in Italian? Thanks.
    – pj2452
    Jul 26, 2016 at 15:47
  • 3
    Parlo con Tom da mesi sull'uso del gerundio would be perfectly grammatical (I've been talking for some months with Tom about the usage of gerund).
    – egreg
    Jul 26, 2016 at 15:56

1 Answer 1


I reply as Italian mother tongue, I'm not an Italian teacher, hence my answer is practical, not technical.

I think stare + gerundio is more or less like the -ing form in English: the present simple is used for habits, while stare + gerundio is used for actions happening in this moment, for example:

Di solito leggo libri di fantascienza (habit), ma in questi giorni sto leggendo un libro giallo (now) --> correct

It is NOT correct to say:

Di solito sto leggendo libri di fantascienza (habit), ma in questi giorni leggo un libro giallo (now) --> not correct

Differently from English, we don't use stare + gerundio for the near future, for example it is NOT correct to say:

Domani sto andando al mercato --> not correct

while it is correct:

Domani andrò al mercato --> correct

Domani vado al mercato --> not completely grammatically correct but largely used in informal Italian

  • Does avere + gerundio or essere + gerundio ever occur?
    – pj2452
    Jul 27, 2016 at 19:04
  • 2
    @pj2452 No, we don't use avere + gerundio or essere + gerundio: "ho facendo qualcosa" or "sono facendo qualcosa" are completly wrong
    – CarLaTeX
    Jul 27, 2016 at 19:26

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