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Cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Verbs book resting on an Italian red-checkered tablecloth

Stare per: “To be about to” in Italian

Stare Per: “To be about to” in Italian

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog    Use “stare per” when speaking in Italian to let someone know you are “about to” do something!

In this blog, “Stare per: ‘To be about to’ in Italian “ we will focus on how to conjugate and use the Italian verb and preposition combination stare per. This verb combination is the way Italians let others know they are “about to” do something.

The heart of any language is its verbs.  I believe that to speak fluently in any language, it is important to have an in-depth understanding of how each verb is used in real life situations. And what can be more important than telling the one you love how special they are to you?

Enjoy the third topic in my blog series about Italian verbs: Stare per: “To be about to” in Italian.  —Kathryn Occhipinti

Special thanks to Italian instructor Maria Vanessa Colapinto.

Parts of this blog have been reposted from Italian Phrases We Use EVERY Day! – “To be about to” with Stare per’ from Conversational Italian! a blog by the same author.  Check out this blog as well if you are interested in phrases to use every day!

Stare per — “to be about to” in Italian

As we’ve seen in a previous blog about the verb stare, although the direct translation of stare is “to stay,” over the centuries stare has also taken on the meaning of “to be” with respect to one’s general health. The verb stare is often used in other ways as well. For instance, with the addition of the preposition per, the “stare  per” combination conveys the meaning “to be about to.”

Stare is an –are verb that has an irregular root in the tu and loro forms. In the table below, the regular conjugations of stare are given in green and the irregular forms in brown, in order to make them easier to recognize. The stare conjugation table has been modified from our first blog on this topic to reflect the different meaning with the addition of the preposition per after the verb.

Stare per – to be about to 

io sto
I am about to
tu stai
you (familiar) are about to


you (polite) are about to

she/he is about to

noi stiamo per we are about to
voi state
you all are about to
loro stanno
they are about to



Once we have stare conjugated to reflect the speaker, the rest is easy! Simply follow the conjugated form of stare with per and then the infinitive form of the verb that describes what you are “about to” do.


What are some things we may be “about to” do during the course of the day?  The actions of going to or returning from a place are very common.  For instance, if I were “about to” go to the store to pick up some wine for dinner, and want to inform a family member, the line may go something like this:

Sto per andare a comprare una bottiglia di vino. Preferisci rosso o bianco?
I am about to go to buy a bottle of wine. Do you prefer red or white?

Or, maybe your friend is putting on his coat, as if he were about to leave a gathering. Instead, you would like him to stay. You may say something like this (using the familiar command form of restare):

Stai per partire? È troppo presto! Resta qui un ora di più con me!
Are you about to leave?  It’s very early! Stay here an hour longer with me!

We can continue in this manner with the other verbs of “coming and going”  like arrivare (to arrive), venire (to come), entrare (to enter), tornare (to return), or rientrare (to come back).

There are many other daily activities that come to mind where stare per may be useful.  We are often “about to” say (dire) something important, or “about to” answer (rispondere) a question. We may be “about to”  write (scrivere), send (mandare), or read (leggere) an important text or email.

After hearing sad news, we may be about to cry (stare per mettersi a piangere).

Several commonly used verb combinations given above have been listed in the table below. How many more can you think of?

Stare per andare About to go
Stare per partire About to leave
Stare per arrivare About to arrive
Stare per venire About to come
Stare per entrare About to enter
Stare per tornare About to return
Stare per rientrare About to come back
Stare per dire About to say
Stare per rispondere About to answer
Stare per scivere About to write
Stare per mandare About to send
Stare per leggere About to read
Stare per mettersi a piangere About to cry


Now that we know how to say what we are about to do in the present tense, let’s go one a step further and talk about the past tense. In fact, many of the phrases listed in the last section are more commonly used in the past tense during a normal conversation.

For instance, the phrase, “I was about to say…” is often used when one speaker has interrupted another. “I was about to answer…!” might be used if one feels pressured into saying something too quickly. Or, is one is telling a story about an unfortunate event that has happened to a friend, this story might involve the sentence, “He/she was about to cry…”

In these cases, we have to conjugate stare in the past tense.  The imperfetto conjugation is given below. The rest of the sentence structure remains the same!


Stare imperfetto per — was about to

io stavo
was about to
tu stavi
you (familiar) were about to


you (polite) were about to

she/he was about to

noi stavamo per we were about to
voi stavate per you all were about to
loro stavano per they were about to

Stavo per dire la stessa cosa!
I was about to say the same thing!

Stavo per rispondere, ma non mi hai dato il tempo!
I was about to answer, but you didn’t give me time!

Stava per mettersi a piangere quando le ho detto che nonna è in ospitale.
She was about to cry when I told her that grandma is in the hospital.


Another important use for the verb stare is to convey the idea that one is doing something right now.  Stare plus the gerund of an action verb creates the present progressive form. In English, the present progressive is the “ing” form of a verb  —  I am going, coming, doing, etc.

In Italian, the present progressive tense is used sparingly; it is reserved for a happening that is going on at the exact same time as the conversation. In short, where in English we commonly say “I am going,” to mean we will leave anywhere from one minute later to sometime in the near future,  in Italian, a simple, “Io vado,” will suffice. To stress that he or she is leaving momentarily, an Italian might instead use stare say, “Sto andando,”** but either tense is correct.


To form the present progressive tense, simply conjugate stare to reflect the speaker. Then add the gerund of the action verb that is to follow.


It is fairly simple to create a gerund to create the present progressive tense in Italian. Drop the -are, -ere, and -ire verb endings to create the stem. Then add –ando to the stem of the -are verbs and -endo to the stem of the -ere and -ire verbs. Most gerunds are regular, which generally makes for easy conjugation, although, of course, there are some exceptions! For more information on this verb type, check out our reference book, Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs.”  

Let’s take  a few of our example sentences one step further, from being “about to” do something, to actually doing it “right away.” Notice how the different use of stare changes the meaning of each sentence!

Sto andando a comprare una bottiglia di vino. 
I am going (right now) to buy a bottle of wine. 

Il treno per Roma sta partendo!
The train for Rome is leaving (right now)!

Stavo dicendo la stessa cosa!
I was (just) saying the same thing!

Stavo rispondendo, ma mi hai interrotto!
I was answering, but you interrupted me!

A couple more points…

*Another common way to convey you are leaving right away is with the phrase, “Me ne vado,” from the verb andarsene, but this is a topic for another blog!

*Instead of saying, “Sto arrivando,” for “I’m coming right now,” Italians commonly say, “Arrivo!”


Cover of Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Verbs book resting on an Italian red-checkered tablecloth
Conversational Italian for Travelers “Just the Verbs” book to learn Italian. Fina an introduction to the Italian subjunctive mood in this book.

Stare per – “To be about to” in Italian

Lago Maggiore,: Italian reservations made for a view of Isola Bella

Making Italian Reservations for Your Summer Vacation

Making Italian Reservations for Your Summer Vacation

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog  Follow Caterina and learn how to make YOUR Italian reservations in the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books!

The Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook begins each chapter with a dialogue from a story about the character Caterina, an American girl who travels to Italy to visit her relatives. As the story continues from one chapter to the next, we learn Italian, and about Italy, in an engaging way through Caterina’s experiences.

Making Italian Reservations for YOUR Summer Vacation—or Any Time!

Because Caterina visits Italy during the summer months for our story, she is able to join her Italian family on their traditional trip for the Ferragosto holiday that takes place on the week of August 15. As part of their preparations,  Caterina’s sister-in-law Francesca asks Caterina to make hotel reservations for their family at their favorite family-run lakeside resort in the town of Stresa.

Listen in on Caterina’s conversation with the hotel manager at our website  www.LearnTravelItalian.com and learn important Italian phrases that may be useful to plan YOUR vacation in Italy this summer!

The Cultural Note below, adapted from the Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook, focuses on how to use the Italian vocabulary needed to make and change reservations.
—Kathryn Occhipinti


Making Italian Reservations
Checking and Changing Italian Reservations

Historic Villa Igea Hotel, Palermo Sicily
Italian sunrise over Palermo, Sicily, from the historic Villa Igea Hotel

Let’s start with some basic phrases that will be helpful to know when calling or speaking to hotel personnel in order to make a reservation. To follow, we will learn about some general ways these phrases can be used.


la prenotazione reservation
Ho una prenotazione. (I) have a reservation.
prenotare to make a reservation
Ho prenotato (I) have made a reservation…
riservare to make a reservation
È riservato… (It) is reserved…
l’ordine order
ordinare to order
Ho ordinato… (I) have ordered…
annullare to cancel (a reservation or order)
Ho annulato… (I) have cancelled…
cambiare to change
Ho cambiato… (I) have changed…
controllare to check
Ho controllato (I) have checked…
confermare to confirm
Ho confermato… (I) have confirmed…


Vorrei/Desidero… I would like/I want to…
…fare una prenotazione. …make a reservation.
…annullare una prenotazione. …cancel a reservation.
…cambiare una prenotazione. …change a reservation.
…controllare una prenotazione. …check a reservation.
…confirmare una prenotazione. …confirm a reservation.
…ordinare la prima colazione. …order breakfast.
Si, la camera è riservata. Yes, the room is reserved.
Lei ha una stanza riservata per sabato. You (pol.) have a room reserved for Saturday.


Both Italian verbs prenotare and riservare translate into English as “to book/to make a reservation.” Their corresponding nouns are la prenotazione and la riservazione. Although both nouns translate as the English word reservation, the use of each Italian word varies with the situation.

Most commonly, when asking to make Italian reservations at a hotel, on a train, or at the theater, Italians use the word prenotazione, with the verb fare, as Caterina does when she says during her telephone conversation in our dialogue Chapter 12 Dialogue “Phone Conversations,” “Vorrei fare una prenotazione,” for “I would like to make a reservation.”

When boarding a train or entering a theater with a ticket that has a reserved seat, Caterina would have “un biglietto con la prenotazione,” or “a ticket with the reservation.” If Caterina wants to tell someone she is checking her seat to make sure she is in the right place, she would use the verb controllare, as in, “Controllo il biglietto con la prenotazione,” for “I am checking the ticket with the reservation.” Remember il controllore from Chapter 5 of our textbook Conversational Italian for Travelers, whose job it is to check tickets on passenger trains?

However, the actual room in the hotel or seat on the train or theater is referred to as reserved with the past tense, as in “Il posto è riservato.” The seat has been booked, and no one else can use it. The word riservato can also be used as an adjective. If someone else had made a prenotazione before Caterina, her request might be denied because of una camera riservata, una stanza riservata, or un posto riservato!

Now, what would happen if Caterina had to cancel a reservation she has made for a trip She would call the hotel and use the verb annullare and say, “Vorrei annullare una prenotazione,” for “I would like to cancel a reservation.” If she had placed an order for something that needed to be cancelled, Caterina would say, “Vorrei annulare un ordine.” Or if a reservation needed to be changed, she could use the verb cambiare, as in “Vorrei cambiare una prenotazione.”

And what should we do if we want to confirm a reservation? Just say, “Vorrei confermare una prenotazione.” Finally, instead of vorrei, one could also use the verb desidero for I would like. Also, as always, be polite and add per favore to the end of the sentence!

—Adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, Chapter 12, “Important Phrases and Grammar Note: Making, Checking and Changing a Reservation,” by Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

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Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Making Italian Reservations for Your Summer Vacation