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;-)