13.3.3 Gerundio as a substitute for a subordinate clause or as an adverbial adjunct
Anotations concerning the if clauses: We already know from chapter 11 , that apart from the three types of if clauses you find in any grammar of every language there is a fourth one. The combination of a congiuntivo trapassato and a condizionale I is possible as well.
Se me lo avesse detto, sarei felice adesso.
I he had told me that, I would be happy now.
But that doesn't change anything of the principal logic. Although the gerundio is infinite and undefined and has no mood (either indicative, nor subjunctive, nor imperative nor whatever) we know the mood it belongs to because the mood is fixed by the mood and the tense of the main clause.
If the gerundio is used in an if clause of type I we know that the gerundio substitutes an indicativo presente,
(in this case the main sentence is in indicativo presente as well ),
if the gerundio is used in an if clause of type II the gerundio substitutes a congiuntivo imperfetto,
(in the main sentence is used in this case the condizionale I)
and if the gerundio is used in an if clause of type III, the gerundio substitutes a congiuntivo trapassato,
(in the main sentence is used the condizionale II).
The gerundio can substitute an indicativo presente, a congiuntivo imperfetto or a congiuntivo trapassato. What it actually substitutes is to be deduced from the mood and tense of the main clause.
if clause type I
Se risparmio soldi, mi posso comprare una macchina.
Risparmiando soldi, mi posso comprare una macchina.
If I spare money, we can buy a car.
if clause type II
Se risparmiassi soldi, mi potrei comprare una macchina.
Risparmiando soldi, mi potrei comprare una macchina.
If I spared money, we could buy a car.
if clause type III
Se avessi risparmiato soldi, mi sarei potuto comprare una macchina.
Risparmiando soldi, mi sarei potuto comprare una macchina.
If I had saved money, I could have bought a car.
In the case of an if clause a substitution with an infinitive or a participio passato is normally not possible. Nevertheless a participio passato is to be used, if one want to substitute the if clause by an infinite form, if the if clause is in passive voice.
Un corso fatto bene, è utile.
Se il corso è fatto bene, è utile.
A well down course is helpfull.
Gerundio as a concessive clause
Concessive conjunctions are although, even if, though etc. . They combine two actions / events in a way that one action is described as something opposed to the realisation of the action / event described in the main sentence, but doesn't really hinders the realisation of this action / event. (That's what distinguishes a concessive clause from an adversative clause. In an adversative clause one action impedes the realisation of the other action / event: I would buy a car, but I have no money.) Sometimes an adversative clause can't be distinguished from concessive clause.
He could do it, nevertheless he doesn' t want.
This sentence can be interpreted as a concessive clause and as an adversative clause. We see that more clearly if we use other conjunctions.
a) concessive clause: He could do it, although he doesn' t want.
b) adversative clause: He could do it, but he doesn' t want.
In case a) he doesn't want to do it, but he will do it anyway. In case b) he doesn't want to do it and he really doesn' t do it.
If we substitute a adversative clause with a gerundio we must put the conjunction pure. This is compulsory and other adversative conjunctions like benchè, sebbene, malgrado, nonostante etc. can't be used.
The difference between although and even if is smeared if we use the construction pure + gerundio instead of an adversative clause.
a) Although he works the whole day, he doesn' t earn enough to make a living.
b) Even if he works the whole day, he doesn' t earn enought to make a living.
Both sentences can be translated with pur + gerundio.
Pur lavorando tutto il giorno, non guadagna abbastanza soldi per vivere.
In case a) he actually works the whole day, but doesn't earn enough. In case b) it is a theoretical possibility. Even in the case he would work the whole day, something he doesn't do, he wouldn't earn enough. Both sentences would be translated to Italian the same way.
Pur risparmiando soldi, non si può comprare una macchina.
Although / Even if he saves money, he can' t buy a car.
Pur avendo risparmiato soldi, non si può comprare una macchina.
also: Pur risparmiati soldi, non si può comprare una macchina.
Pur studiando giorno e notte, non ho superato quest' esame.
Although I have studied the whole day, I didn' t passed the exam.
Pur avendo studiando giorno e notte, non superai quest' esame.
Even if I had studied the whole day, I wouldn' t pass the exam.