13.6.4 exercise2: The construction stare + gerundio

The construction stare + gerundio as well as the continuous form in English describes an action / event as something happening in a certain moment. That's why everybody believes that stare + gerundio is used in the same context as the English continuos form. At the other side you can read sometimes that there is an overuse of the construction stare + gerundio (or estar + gerundio in Spanish) of English native speakers. This statement seems correct even if there are no statistical data of the phenomenon because it is plausible. The reason of this overuse can be explained or in other words it can be shown that this phenomon is plausible.

1) The Italian imperfect can be used to describe a basic action which has been interrupted by another action.

a) I was reading a book when suddenly someone knocked at the door.

b) Leggevo un libro quando di golpo qualcuno bussò alla porta.
c) Stava leggendo un libro quando di golpo qualcuno bussò alla porta.

In the English sentence the use of the continuous form is compulsory, the simple past can't be used in this context. But Italian have already a tense to describe ongoing actions that were interrupted by another action, the imperfetto. So the use of the construction stare + gerundio is not compulsory. It can be used, it is grammaticaly correct, but not compulsory and normally it woudn't be used in this context. An English native speaker tends to use the construction stare + gerundio in this context because in English he would use the continuous form, but it is not compulsory in Italian in this context.

2) The English present perfect continuous and the English past perfect continuous are used to describe an action which started in the past and continued or stopped immediately before another actions started.

He had been looking for his keys the whole morning, when he found them under his clothes.

I have been working the whole day on it and it is not finished.

In Italian you can use the construction stare + gerundio in this context, but it is not compulsory.

Ho lavorato tutto il giorno, sono stanco adesso.
Ho stato lavorando tutto il giorno, sono stanco adesso.

I have been working the whole day, I am tired now.

An English native speaker tends to use the construction stare + gerundio every time he would use the gerund in English. Chose in the following sentences the plausible italian translation.

  Übung 4    
Puoi stare zitto un attimo? Sto telefonando ! ?
  Puoi stare zitto un attimo? Telefono!
Can you keep quiet for a moment? I am on the phone!
  Stavamo parlando di lui, quando di colpo entrò. ?
  Parlavamo di lui, quando di colpo entrò.
  We were talking about him when he suddenly came in.
  Nessuno credeva più che sarebbe venuto, quando di colpo entrò. ?
  Nessuno credeva più che sarebbe, quando di colpo entrò.
  Nobody had been expecting him any more when he suddenly came in.
  Parlavano di questo problema già da mesi, quando di colpo trovarono una soluzione. ?
  Stavano parlando di questo problema già da mesi, quando di colpo trovarono una soluzione.
  They had been talking about this problem for months, when they suddenly found the solution.
  Fumava molto, ma quando vide la radiografia del polmone di sua moglie, lo smisse. ?
  Stava fumando molto, ma quando vide la radiografia del polmone di sua moglie, lo smisse.
  He has been smoking a lot but when he saw the photograph of his wife, he stopped smoking.
 






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