Present/Past perfect (continuous)

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by arnold_84, Feb 23, 2007.

  1. arnold_84

    arnold_84 Member

    Italy - Sardinia - Italiano!!!
    Hello everybody, I still found some difficulties when I've to translate the past continuous tenses. For instance if I readed "We have wasted" I should translate as such "Noi abbiamo sprecato", but if I found "We have been wasting" how can I translate the "continuos" in italian? I think it work as "Sprecavamo", is it true?

    Thanks a lot. Ciau.
  2. Murphy

    Murphy Senior Member

    Sicily, Italy
    English, UK

    "We have been wasting" is a present perfect continuous. This tense is often used to express how much time has passed doing the particular action ("forma di durata").

    "We have been wasting our time here for 3 hours". You would probably translate this using a present tense. "Sono tre ore che sprechiamo(perdiamo) il nostro tempo qui" or "sprechiamo (perdiamo) tempo qui da tre ore".

    "We had been wasting our time there for 3 hours" (past perfect continuous) could be translated with the imperfect "sprecavamo (perdevamo) tempo lì da tre ore"

    However, the present and past perfect continuous aren't only used to show how much time was spent doing the action, but can also simply indicate that the action was continuous.

    "We have been wasting our time here. Let's go." = "Abbiamo sprecato il nostro tempo qui. Andiamo via."

    "We realised we had been wasting our time there and decided to leave" = "Ci siamo resi conto che avevamo sprecato il nostro tempo lì e abbiamo deciso di andare via"

    In the last two sentences the action finishes. We don't know how long it lasted. In the first two sentences, we don't know if it has finished or not, but we know how long ago it started.

    I hope this makes things a little clearer. This is quite a complicated subject, and, as often is the case, translation will depend on the context of the sentence.:)

    Ps. "to read" is an irregular verb in the past tense.;)
  3. arnold_84

    arnold_84 Member

    Italy - Sardinia - Italiano!!!
    Thank you very much Murphy for your accurate and quite clear explanation. I think I've just understood it. I still have one more last question, you talked about "ongoing actions", I wonder if it's mandatory to use exclusively the continuous form in any case we tolked about. I mean, could I write "We have wasted our time for 3 hours!" (without the continuous tense)? Moreover, if I used only the present (or past) perfect simple, could I mean in the same way a repeated action in a lapse of time?

    I hope my question is understandable. Ciau.
  4. runningman

    runningman Senior Member

    Italian - Italy
    Hi arnold_84,
    "We have wasted our time for 3 hours" is possible but doesn't have the same meaning of "We have been wasting our time for 3 hours".
    In the first case you're no longer wasting your time. The action is complete.
    In the second case we don't know if the action is complete or not. It could be still ongoing
  5. virgilio Senior Member

    English UK
    Not exactly an answer to your question - and congratulations to Murphy for a lucid explanation - but a proposito "We have wasted our time for 3 hours"; it is grammatically correct but the style sounds a little un-English.
    I would suggest instead: "We have wasted 3 hours of our time", if either the wasting process is now finished or is about to be finished.

  6. trikkinder Senior Member

    Ciao a tutti!
    Potete aiutarmi? Sapere dirmi se la frase

    "I love Simon and Garfunkel. They've been my favorite singers for a long time"

    significa che S. & G. sono i miei cantati preferiti da un sacco di tempo o piuttosto che sono stati i miei cantanti preferiti per un lungo periodo?

    "For a long time" a volte non esprime un periodo a partire dal quale succede una certa cosa? Ma il present perfect mi mette in crisi...

    Grazie a tutti! :)

    Nota del moderatore: usa la funzione di ricerca, per favore, puoi trovare molto informazioni in altri threads.
  7. fabiog_1981 Senior Member

    Milano/Italia - Italiano
    Sono i miei cantati preferiti da un sacco di tempo... ok!!!
  8. Caroline35 Senior Member

    Ciao, "We have wasted our time " abbiamo sprecato il nostro tempo mentre"we have been wasting our time for 4 hours" è passato prossimo continuo o progressivo. Per quanto tempo abbiamo sprecato il nostro tempo? Per 4 ore .Quindi l'azione del passato prossimo progressivo continua per 4 ore. Sprecavamo è sbagliato, perchè sarebbe un imperfetto, quindi un tempo descrittivo nel passato,che equivale al past simple continuous. In the past we were wasting our time discussing for hours...

    Mentre il present perfect( passato prossimo) esprime un'azione che è iniziata nel passato, ma che continua nel presente, Il past simple (passato remoto) esprime un'azione terminata, che non influisce più nel presente. I've been to Paris a few time, in the last year. L'azione non è terminata, perchè l'anno non è ancora finito. but I went to Paris 3 times last year. Andai a Parigi l'anno scorso. Spero di essere stata chiara. Ciao
  9. flaze Member

    Catania, Sicilia
    English -UK

    io direi 'sono stati i miei cantati preferiti da molto tempo' :)

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