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In the first place, "I am needing help" is not wrong; it would be quite common to say it, to emphasise the immediacy of the situation. There's quite a bit of fallacious prescriptivism around the issue of stative verbs - that sort of rule is only a rough and ready guide to what native English speakers actually say and accept as correct. In the second place, I can't think of a context where I would be likely to say "I am understanding", though derived forms would be more likely, e.g. one could easily ask, "Am I understanding you correctly?" But, always beware of the variability in English usage in different English-speaking communities.
Gerunds vs present participles.
A gerund is a verb used as a noun, as a subject, an object of a verb or of a preposition.
• Studying is the key to success.
• Jack resented working on Monday.
• Joe is happy about living in NY.
A present participle is the -ing part of a verb in progressive tenses:
• He is studying to be a doctor.
They can be confusing, grammar wise.
• When I saw Bill, he was hitchhiking. I saw "him" hitchhiking. (present participle)
• Hitchhiking is unsafe, so Bill's dad doesn't approve of "his" hitchhiking. (gerund)
Regarding the example of "Acabamos dormindo no chão" (We ended up sleeping on the floor):
"Sleeping on the floor" is a gerund phrase and is the object of "ended up."
Your gerúndios are both our gerunds and our present participles, while your particípios are our past participles.
Looks like this:
English gerunds -- Portuguese "infinitivos"
English present participles = Portuguese "gerúndios"
English past participles = Portuguese "particípios"
But they might have other functions too that aren't related.
I said Portuguese has no "gerunds" because we would use the infinitive, not the "ndo" whenever we want to give it a noun meaning:
- Comer frutas é bom para a saúde = Eating fruit is good to one's health.
- Ele gosta de correr = He likes running
"To need" is a stative verb and isn't used progressively in standard English.
Oddly enough, it can. I agree that "to need" is a stative verb, and I agree that in general stative verbs cannot be used progressively - but as it happens, "We are needing help" is perfectly natural in English; at least, it is in my geographical variant (southern England). But if you look for it in Google, in quotes, you'll find hundreds of examples from competent native speakers. Looking at lists of stative verbs, I can think of contexts where many of them would be used with the progressive by a native speaker, especially where the state involved is seen as temporary (e.g. "We are needing help here" rather suggests that the hearer is likely to come and give the help required, or at least that they jolly well should). But, just for the avoidance of doubt... There is absolutely nothing wrong with "we need help" as a translation here, it's just that the supposed rule doesn't quite work.
When a stative verb can be used progressively, the meaning changes. To think as a stative verb = to believe. To think used progressively = to consider.
We hear I am loving as a result of McDonald's ads, but neither "loving" or "needing" will get by the copy editors at The NY Times. Language evolves, so these progressive forms may become standard someday..
"Need" v "needing" from google Ngrams:
Yes, we certainly wouldn't want to encourage "I'm loving it"... The most recent research on usage that I've found suggests that there are two typical features that tip towards the progressive in stative verbs: temporariness and politeness (the progressive is seen as less demanding, so I was wrong above). There is a slightly greater tendency to use it in British than American English (so, while the NY might object, the BBC might not). But in "Outer Circle" Englishes (India, Kenya, black South Africa) its use is much wider, and indiscriminate.