you're being too literal. idioms, adages, mottoes are often ungrammatical in their originating languages. these aren't translations in the same sense as reading an English novel and translating it for an Italian readership. these are ideas which are the product of Italian culture and we are matching them to an English cultural idea as close as possible. the same ideas crop up in all cultures but the expressions are unique.
I slightly mislead you, as an ing ending to the verb can also denote the present participle, the use of which in English is slightly complicated. It can refer to a continuous action (I was passing); function as an adjective the grinning cat, or used in a participle clause when the action happens at the same time as the action in the principal clause. However I thought to keep things simple as in this case it is definitively used as a gerund: a form of verb that functions as a noun. For example: "asking questions is a good thing" . Or: "answering them can get you into trouble." Hope that helped. Certainly helped me
Thanks. : ) I edited the original post, as "vivendo" is defintely a gerund in Italian.
Still not certain about the English, though. (The noun thing was what I used here and it works great on the examples you provided ("food is a good thing", "food can get you into trouble"), but not on the sentence at hand ("food, we learn"). I guess I have to do some more reading. : 7)
Food,we learn where did that come from? I must have missed something. Anyway in general it is Duolingo that is at a fault not you, as they confused the gerund ( noun) and the present participle (which in Italian too has a similar ending (ando endo) using it sometimes as the one (vivendo, si impara) and sometimes as the other (sto camminando ...) all under the banner of the module gerund
Interesting. I haven't studied the present participle yet, but was wondering how it might different from the gerund, and the "stand alone" part answers that question, at least in part. A participle is attached to something, acting either as an adjective or part of a compound verb, so it can't stand alone. At least, that's my take on it so far.
A gerund is the noun form of the verb. e.g. "running" acts as a noun in: "Running is fun". In English the present participle "running" as in "I am running" happens to look the same. So often people (including DL) mistakenly call both a gerund. Be careful because the Italian gerundio is the English present participle. And often the English gerund is translated into the Italian infinitive. e.g. "Running is fun" = "Correre è divertente" Lots of confusion over this.
Is this actually idiomatic? Screams for punctuation (in English, at least). Living if you learn is not the same as "vive ed impara" and "vivendo ed imparando" is not offered? Got lots of pillows 'round my head, so am ready to be assailed by you grammarians at loose. 09Apr16
Most of the posts here are concerned about the possible English translations. There is no doubt that this is considered a standard proverb in English which can take various forms. e.g. Live and learn, You live and learn, or whatever. I want to know from a native Italian speaker if "Vivendo si impara" is the standard form of this proverb in Italian. Are there also some other standard forms?
The English expression Live and learn is not really an imperative, as it might appear from the grammatical form; there is a suppressed subject, the (impersonal) 'you'/'one'. It's really an abbreviation for YOU live and learn, the implication being that you learn by living. That is, By living, one learns. And this is a literal translation of the Italian Vivendo si impara.
In other words: there IS a hidden (implicit) gerund tucked away in the meaning of the English after all.
Not in my native speaker (UK) experience. "Live and learn" (or sometimes "You live and learn") is precisely the expression always used. I have never heard "By living we learn" or "By living you learn" in my life: the fact that they track the formal syntax of the Italian more closely does not make them decent translations.