Io sto vivendo in una caverna.

English Translation

I’ve been living in a cave.

This sentence has been occupying me for a while now, since I guess it shows there is indeed no linear match between all the possible tenses in English and Italian, with no direct equivalent here existing for the English present imperfect continuous tense.

Without any context I would interpret the Italian sentence as “I am living in a cave”, and actually, I guess there’s nothing really wrong with that, since the present imperfect continuous tense used in the English sentence also shows that it is still a currently ongoing activity/state, so it is still true, and the person who is currently living in the cave will have been living there for a while too, since you’re talking to them now, and they’re not saying “I’m going to be living in a cave”, “I have just moved into a cave”, or “I am in the process of moving into a cave”.

Still, it’s been bugging me a little for some strange reason. [Mi sta preoccupando ;-)]

At least, in addition to the very helpful easitalian website describing the various Italian tenses I had already discovered before, it lead to the happy discovery of the Collins Grammar Dictionary being easily accessible online too.


Ouch. I see your point. This clearly says “Me, I’m living in a cave”.

Vivevo in una caverna - I was living in
Ho vissuto in una caverna - I had been living in/I lived in
Sto *per vivendo in una caverna - I am about to live in…

Bravo Collins;-)


But do the English and the Italian sentence really match?

Ciao. I still read this, as “I am living in a cave”. For *I have been living in a cave, I would have written *Ho vissuto in una caverna.

Could one also write *Stavo vivendo…? I was living… I had been living…

Mamma mia, I really don’t know which is preferable :thinking:

The tenses do not match completely, but there is no way to convey the exact meaning of the English sentence in Italian by verb conjugation alone. At least, none that I can think of at the moment.

You can qualify the Italian sentence like “È da un po’ che sto vivendo in una caverna” (or even “che vivo in una caverna”, the indicative present can be used for ongoing actions too). This is a way to convey that the action ongoing now started some time ago.

“Ho vissuto in una caverna” suggests that I am not currently doing so.


Very interesting! Lacking context, I wasn’t thinking about the person still living in the cage: “I see you’re back in town. Where have you been?” “I’ve been living in a cave.”

Sono stato vivendo in una caverna [?]


:smiley: Sadly it does not work that way…

However, in your new example “Ho vissuto in una caverna” would be the right translation.