Some languages use one word to say something, another might need 2 or more to say the same thing. In the case of "living together," Italian has a word that sums it up nicely: la convivenza as a noun, or convivere as a verb. In modern English, we call it "living together," but a more official but perhaps outdated noun would be "cohabitation." The question comes up in the TV movie Sposami, where a young couple is having trouble planning their marriage in a way that will satisfy both sets of parents.
Perché non pensi a una bella convivenza, eh? Dai!
Why not think about just living together, huh? Come on!
Caption 58, Sposami EP 1 - Part 18Play Caption
Taking apart this verb and noun makes it easy to understand:
vivere (to live) + con (with) = convivere (to live with, to live together)
The verb convivere is used to mean "to coexist." So not necessarily "together," but at the same time, in the same space.
Ora, i resti dell'antico tempio e della primitiva cattedrale sono incastonati all'interno e all'esterno: elementi pagani e cristiani che si fondono, convivono...
Now, the remains of the ancient temple and the early cathedral are built-in on the inside and the outside: pagan and Christian elements that fuse together, that coexist...
Captions 9-10, Itinerari Della Bellezza Basilicata - Part 4Play Caption
We also use convivere when we have to bear, endure, tolerate, accept, or live with a situation or condition. Right now people are "living with" the presence of the coronavirus.
Si convive (one lives with it).
Dovremo convivere con il coronavirus per parecchio tempo ancora (we will have to live with the coronavirus for some time yet).
People who are living together may be called conviventi. It describes the state
La parete divisoria è abusiva, quindi per lo Stato noi siamo già conviventi.
The dividing wall is illegal, so for the State, we're already living together.
Captions 6-7, La Tempesta film - Part 16Play Caption
Conviventi is actually the present participle of convivere. We don't think about the present participle in English much, but it does exist. It is part of the present continuous or progressive tense and ends in "-ing." It looks just like a gerund but works differently.
We could put the previous example in the present continuous, but we would need a different verb (stare instead of essere, both translating to "to be").
La parete divisoria è abusiva, quindi per lo Stato noi stiamo già convivendo.
The dividing wall is illegal, so for the State, we are already living together.
Here's the difference:
A gerund is a form of a verb used as a noun, whereas a participle is a form of verb used as an adjective or as a verb in conjunction with an auxiliary verb. In English, the present participle has the same form as the gerund, and the difference is in how they are used.
Why is this important to know? In English it doesn't matter much--we know how to use these words and we don't much care what they are called. But it can help us understand the Italian present participle, which, unlike English, does have a different form, and often causes confusion for learners.
If you look at a conjugation chart, at the top you will see something like this:
convivereIt is conjugated like: vivereinfinite: conviveregerundio: convivendoparticipio presents: conviventeparticipio passato: convissutoforma pronominale: (n/a)
For those of you following Daniela's lessons, there is one about participles.
Il participio anche ha due tempi, il presente e il passato. Al presente, il participio è "andante" e al passato sarebbe "andato".
The participle has two different tenses, the present and the past. In the present, the participle is "going" and in the past it would be "gone."
Captions 7-10, Corso di italiano con Daniela Modi Indefiniti - Part 2Play Caption
That's it for this lesson. We hope you have learned something useful, and we encourage you to write to us with questions, doubts or ideas. firstname.lastname@example.org.