Sunday, 4 March 2012

What Are You Doing?


SCENARIO
Imagine you are in the middle of doing something when a relative, a friend or a colleague stops by. The other person is curious and says to you: "what are you doing?"

In Spanish, the other person could choose to be less formal and say:
¿Qué haces?*

Alternatively, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say:
¿Que hace (usted)?*

*NB In Spanish, it is quite common to use this form of the question ("what do you do?"), even though what may be meant (in English) is: "what are you doing?".


OUR TIP
The first thing to note is that you DO NOT need to be concerned about the level of formality in the other person's question. Please note also that, when responding to this question, context is quite important. In the scenario described above, you may take the question as an invitation for you to say what you are doing at the moment the question is asked. Your main concern should be about communicating what you are doing at that time. Perhaps you want to say that you are:
  • Reading something.
  • Writing something.
  • Listening to something.
  • Talking to someone.
  • Speaking a different language.
  • Looking for something
  • Getting dressed.
  • Putting some makeup on.
  • Combing your hair.
  • Eating something.
  • Brushing your teeth.
  • Turning an electrical appliance on.
  • Turning an electrical appliance off.
  • Having a meal.
  • Having a drink.
  • Buying something.
  • Going to bed.

Here are some examples of how you would say what you are doing:
  • Leo un libro (I am reading a book).
  • Estoy leyendo un libro (I am reading a book).
  • Escribo una carta  ( I am writing a letter)
  • Estoy escribiendo una carta (I am writing a letter).
  • Escucho la radio (I am listening to the radio).
  • Estoy escuchando la radio (I am listening to the radio).
  • Hablo por teléfono con Pedro (I am talking to Pedro on the phone).
  • Estoy hablando por teléfono con Pedro (I am talking to Pedro on the phone).
  • Estoy hablando inglés (I am speaking English).
  • Busco las llaves (I am looking for my keys).
  • Estoy buscando las llaves (I am looking for my keys).
  • Me visto (I am getting dressed).
  • Me estoy vistiendo (I am getting dressed).
  • Me pongo maquillaje (I am putting makeup on).
  • Me estoy poniendo maquillaje (I am putting makeup on)
  • Me peino (I am combing my hair).
  • Estoy peinándome (I am combing my hair).
  • Como un pastel (I am eating a cake).
  • Me estoy comiendo un pastel (I am eating a cake).
  • Me cepillo los dientes (I am brushing my teeth).
  • Estoy cepillándome  los dientes (I am brushing my teeth).
  • Enciendo la tele (I am turning on the television set).
  • Estoy encendiendo la tele (I am turning on the television set).
  • Me tomo el desayuno (I am having breakfast).
  • Estoy desayunando (I am having breakfast).
  • Tomo un café (I am having a coffee).
  • Me estoy tomando un café (I am having a coffee).
  • Compro sellos (I am buying stamps).
  • Estoy comprando sellos (I am buying stamps).
  • Me voy a la cama (I am going to bed).

Now you should practice answering the question:
¿Qué haces?



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