13.3.5 Participio presente

The English present participle can be used as an adverb and as an adjective.

Laughing he told me what has happened.
The laughing man crosses the street.

One may believe that the participio presente can be used in Italian as an adjective because at least in theory it can be inflected, can therefore match in gender and number with the noun it refers to, what is the condition to be used as an attribute. That's true in theory, but not in practice because the formation of the participio presente is not a productive system any more, in other words, it is not possible to form the participio presente from any verb. The existing forms of the participio presente, words like sorridente, parlante, seguente, etc. are nowadays considered simple adjectives, form part of the vocabulary. If you don't find them in a dictionary you can't form them. To keep it simple: There are no present participles in Italian. The schema showed by the tables below is not a productive system anymore and can't be used with just any verb.

The participio presente, at least in theory, is formed by omitting the ending of the infinitive and adding to the infinitive the endings -ante (if the verbe ends on -are) or -ente (if the verbe ends on -ere or -ire).

verbs on -are
infinitive translation radical ending
  cantare to sing cant ante
  parlare to talk parl
  andare to go and
verbs on -ere / -ire
infinitive translation radicale ending
seguire to follow segu ente
concernere to concern concern
morire to die mor

  la donna cantante = the singing woman
  l' uomo parlante = the speaking man
  la donna andante = the walking woman
  l' uomo morente = the dying man

As we already said, the participio presente can and must be inflected, because an adjective matches in gender and number with the noun it refers to.

l' uomo morente <=> gli uomini morenti
  the dying man <=> the dying men
  l' avvenimento seguente <=> gli avvenimenti seguenti
  the following event <=> the following events

The present participle / participio presente is active, the subject of the present participle / participio presente executes the action described by the present participle. The past participle / participio passato is passive, the subject of the participio passato is the goal of the action described by the past participle, but not the executor.

participio presente <=> present participle
  a surprising woman => a woman who surprises
  una donna sorprendente. => Una donna che sorprende.
  participio passato <=> past participle  
  a surprised woman <=> a woman who is surprised
  Una donna sorpresa. => Una donna che è stata sorpresa.

We repeat. In theory the Italian participio presente could be used as an adjective (but not as an adverb as in English), but in practise this is not possible because the participio presente is not a productive system any more. The examples below are not considered in nowadays Italian as present participles, they are simple adjectives like red, hungry and big.

  sorprendente => surprising ( sorprendere, to surprise)
  apparente => apparent ( apparire, to appear)
  sorridente => laughing ( sorridere, to laugh)
  proveniente => to come from ( provenire, to come from)
  crescente => crowing ( crescere, to grow)

precedente => preceeding ( procedere, to preceed)

  soddisfacente => satisfying ( soddisfare, to satisfy)

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