Mentre and Durante: The Difference

Table of Contents

Mentre

Mentre is a conjugation that is always followed by a verb.

In English, the equivalent of mentre is “while.”

This word always requires the use of a verb conjugated in the present, past, or future.

Mentre and the past

A note goes to the use of the past with “mentre”.

As mentre implies the ongoing duration of action over a period of time, the right past tense to use is the “imperfect tense”. As a result, “mentre” can never be followed by a passato prossimo. 

  • mentre mettevo in ordine la stanza, ascoltavo un Podcast – while tidying up the room, I was listening to a podcast.
  • mentre il professore spiegava, prendevo appunti – while the professor was explaining the lesson, I was taking notes 
  • mentre cucinavo, ho ricevuto una telefonata – while I was cooking, I got a phone call

English vs. Italian

Unlike in English, “mentre” can’t ever be followed by a gerund form. If in English it’s OK to say “while doing something”, in Italian it’s not possible and you’ll need to conjugate the verb.

Using a gerund verb form after “mentre” is a typical mistake English speakers make when speaking Italian.

For example, the phrase “while taking a walk, I listen to a Podcast” is correctly translated into Italian with “mentre faccio una passeggiata, ascolto un Podcast” and not with “mentre facendo…”

Durante 

Durante is a preposition and is the equivalent of during in English. It is always followed by a noun (and never by a verb).

  • Durante la cena, guardo la tv – during dinner, I watch TV 

Mentre vs. durante 

Let’s compare the use of mentre (+ verb) and durante (+noun) in the following sentences  

  • Mentre passeggiavo, ho raccolto dei mirtilli buonissimi – While I was walking around, I picked some yummy blueberries 
  • Durante la passeggiata, ho raccolto dei mirtilli buonissimi – During the walk, I picked some very good blueberries
  • Mentre cenavamo, abbiamo parlato di molte cose interessanti – While we were eating dinner, we talked about many interesting things 
  • Durante la cena, abbiamo parlato di molte cose interessanti – During dinner, we talked about many interesting things

About the Author

Serena Capilli

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

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Ciao, I’m Serena!

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

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