13.4.7 infinitive used to abbreviate a subordinate clause part 1

We have already seen that the gerundio, which corresponds in this use to the ENGLISCH PRESENT PARTICIPLE and NOT TO THE English GERUND can be used to abbreviate subordinate sentences.

for instance an if clause:

Having saved more money, he could by a car.

Avendo risparmiato più di soldi, potrebbe comprarsi una macchina.

If we abbreviate a subordinate clause with an infinitive there are some differences compared to the substitution with an infinitive.

1) We have already seen that a gerundio / present participle doesn't reveal the logical / temporal relationship between the action / event described by the finite verb and the action / event described by the infinite verb.

Avendo spesso tutti i suoi soldi, non potevano ritornare a casa.
Having spent all their money, they couldn't return home.

There is a temporal relationship, but this relationship is implicit and must be deduced from the context.

The only exception to that are the concessive clauses.

(In concessive clauses the action / event in the subordinate clause can hypotheticaly impede the realisation of the event / action of the main clause, but doesn't do it:

He goes swimming although he is ill.


Don't confuse them with an adversative clause. In an adversative clause the action / event of the subordinate clause impedes the action / event described in the main clause:

He has no money, therefore he can' t buy a car.)

In concessive clauses the conjunction pur is compulsory.

Pur essendo malato, è andato a nuotare.
Although he was ill, he went swimming.

The infinitivo, unlike the gerundio, is introduced by a conjunction which reveals the temporal or logical relationship between the main clause and the subordinate clause.

Dopo aver detto ciò che voleva dire è andato via.
After having said what he wanted to say, he went away.

2) We have allready said and we like to repeat it that the Italian gerundio corresponds to the English present participle. Remains the question whether the Italian infinitivo corresponds to an English infinitive or to an English gerund. This is more tricky from a grammatical point of view. Compare these to sentences.

After dinner he went to sleep.
After having eaten he went to sleep.

As we see in this example any noun after a preposition can be replaced by a gerund, something quite obvious, because the gerund ist a VERBAL SUBSTANTIVE, has therefore characteristics of a noun. We already said as well, that prepositions establish relationships between nouns and so only a noun, or something similar to a noun, can be used after a presposition. The Italian infinitivo is to be translated with a gerund.

See below some examples. You can see that a noun after a preposition can be substituted by an infinitivo in Italian and by a gerund in English.

  examples
Dopo la cena sono andato a dormire. (substantive)
  After dinner I went to bed.
  Dopo aver mangiato sono andato a dormire. (verbal substantiv)
  After having eaten I went to bed.
  Per lei farei tutto. (Objekt / personal pronoun)
  I would do everything for her.
  Per avere questa macchina farei tutto. (verbal substantiv)
  I wold to everything to get this car.
  Senza di lei / lui non può vivere. (object / personal pronoun)
  He can' t live without her.
  Senza mangiare non si può vivere. (verbal substantiv)
  Without eating one cannot live.
  Mi piace questa casa. (substantive)
  I like this house.
  Mi piace andare in giro. (verbal substantiv)
  I like going for a walk.





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