Italian Language/stare


QUESTION: Dear Maria,

Would you please tell me if I have correctly translated the following sentences:

Scriveva allo scrittoio.
He wrote at the desk.

Scriveva stando seduto allo scrittoio.
He wrote being seated at the desk.

Can you also please help me to understand the verb “stando seduto”.  

I understand that “stando” is the gerundio of stare and that “seduto” is the past participle of sedere.  But, I do not know how to classify the combined structure “stando seduto”  except to think that it is some type of compound gerundio.  Would you please explain this structure to me.  I will so much appreciate this help!!

Thank you, again, for all you do to help me.



ANSWER: Dear Rich,

Both the sentences  “He wrote at the desk” (Scriveva allo scrittoio) and “He wrote being seated at the desk” (Scriveva stando seduto allo scrittoio) are correct.

With regard to “stando seduto”, it is the present gerund (gerundio presente) of the verb “stare seduto” composed of the verb “stare” and the  past participle of the intransitive  verb “ sedere”.  
Therefore the combined structure “stando seduto” is nothing but a present gerund of the intransitive verb “stare seduto”.

All the best,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Maria,

Thank you very much for your help with this question and for informing me that “stare seduto” is an intransitive verb.

I did not realize that “stare seduto” is considered a verb.  I thought the use of the verb “stare” with the past participle “seduto” was two separate verbs or some type of compound structure where stare is an auxiliary verb.  The fact that “stare seduto” is one verb (not 2 verbs or a compound structure where stare is an auxiliary) has led me to several questions that, I hope, you will not mind helping me with.

My dictionary lists the following examples under “stare”  

stare in piedi  = to stand
stare fermo =  to keep still
stare seduto  =  to sit, to be sitting
stare disteso  =  to lie
stare zitto = to keep quiet

I had previously thought that these were only examples of how to use the verb “stare” and not actually verbs in and of themselves.  In other words, for example,   I thought that “stare zitto” was an example showing how the verb “stare” could be used with the adjective “zitto”.  But, now I am wondering if “stare zitto” is a multiple word verb.

Part of the reason for my confusion is also that one of my text books (Prego, 5th edition, pager 74) states that the verb “stare” is used in many idiomatic expressions and lists “stare attento” (to pay attention), “stare bene” (to be well) and “stare zitto” (to keep quiet) as examples.  

But, after reading your answer to this question, I am now thinking that all of the above (stare in piedi, stare fermo, stare seduto, stare disteso, stare zitto, stare attento, and stare bene) are all considered to be verbs.  

Is this so?  If “yes, is there any special way to classify such a multiple word verb?   Does this only happen with “stare”, or can I expect to find this same thing happening with other verbs.

This is all very confusing to me.  But, I know this is good for me.  I so much appreciate your use of the example sentence (Scriveva stando seduto allo scrittoio) in your previous answer that made me aware of my lack of understanding.  Thank you very much for doing so!!

I also have more specific questions about the use of “stare seduto”, but will ask these at a later date.  Right now, I hope just to be abler to come to a better understanding of these multiple words verbs that all contain “stare”.

Thank you



Dear Rich,

please note that, when I wrote that the combined structure “stando seduto” was nothing but a present gerund of the intransitive verb “stare seduto”, I meant that in Italian the verb “stare”, combined with an adjective (stare fermo, stare zitto, etc.), an adverb (stare bene, stare male, etc.), a participle (stare seduto, stare disteso, etc.), a gerund (stare facendo), an adverbial locution (stare in piedi), is always  an intransitive verb that we do not call “multiple word verb”, but simply a "verbo fraseologico" as it is used with adjectives, participles, gerunds, adverbs or  adverbial locutions.

Therefore the verb “stare” with the past participle “seduto” is one verb, called "fraseologico", not  two separate verbs or some type of compound structure where the intransitive “stare” is an auxiliary verb.

In short, “stare seduto” as well as “stare disteso” are considered as  one verb, since it is the only verb “stare” that must be  conjugated, whereas the past participle remains the same, apart from the agreement  with the noun it refers to ( masculine/feminine/singular/plural).

The same happens with “stare fermo”, “stare zitto”, “stare in piedi”, “stare bene”, “stare male” where it is the verb "stare" that conjugates, while the adjectives agree with the noun they refer to, and  adverbs and adverbial locutions are not inflected, of course.

See for example: "Sto seduto"(in the masculine singular), "Sto seduta"(in the feminine singular), "Stanno seduti"(in the masculine plural), "Stanno sedute"(in the feminine plural);"Stettero seduti a lungo", "Stavano fermi", "Starŕ zitto", "Stava in piedi", "Sto bene", "Stava male", etc.  

Hope this is clear enough.

Best regards,

Note that "stare", as a "verbo fraseologico", can also be followed by a preposition as in "Stavo per cadere dalle scale".

Lastly, I have to tell you that in Italian we have many  "verbi fraseologici" such as " mettersi", "andare", "cominciare", "continuare", "finire").
See e.g. "Mettersi a leggere", "Continuare  a fare", "Continuň dicendo che...", "Fině per aiutarmi", etc.

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.


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I received my Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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