5

In these two sentences:

Il bambino sta per mangiare la banana.

Il bambino mangerà la banana.

If I understand it correctly, both seem to express "The boy will eat the banana" or "The boy is going to eat the banana".

However, I don't understand what is the difference, if any, between the two sentences. How can I use them properly?

  • It's mangerà, not mangiarà. I've fixed it for you. – DaG Jan 15 '17 at 14:21
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    The former is the boy is going to eat the banana, the latter is the boy will eat the banana, exactly like in English they mean slightly different things. – egreg Jan 15 '17 at 17:31
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    @egreg Thanks. Is it exactly like in English or is there possibly any difference? – Blaszard Jan 15 '17 at 20:08
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    @Blaszard I'm not English native speaker (I'm Italian); my feeling is that it's exactly like in English. However, the best match for sta per mangiare is is about to eat. This could be a good criterion to try to answer your question. – SantiBailors Jan 17 '17 at 8:26
7

The first sentence indicates an action that will happen in the nearest future, while the second one doesn't necessarily imply that the action will take place after a short lapse of time.

Just to give you an additional information on the historical development of that tense, the first sentence is rendered in latin with the participle future in combination with the verb "to be", which costitutes the so-called "periphrastic active" construction (profecturus sum means "I am going to leave"): this suffix remains productive in Italian language with the same sense of imminence in expressions like "nascituro" ("the one who is going to born") or "venturo" ("the one who is going to come").

  • Thanks. So much like will in English, in the latter sentence should the probability of him eating the banana be 100%? Or should the first sentence have a higher likelihood of him eating the banana? – Blaszard Jan 15 '17 at 20:12
  • The first sentence it isn't uncertain that the children will effectively eat the banana, because he is supposed to immediately do that action, whereas the latter sentence could even hide the possibility that the children will not eat the banana, in relation to the context. – Alessio Jan 15 '17 at 20:18
  • No future event is certain. If I understood right, in "stare per fare qualcosa", the subject has an intention of performing an action in the near future or the speaker believes that the event will occur soon. This intention/belief does not exist a priori in the "future semplice" tense. That is the only difference between the two verb tenses. – Alan Evangelista Aug 23 at 3:05

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