Wednesday, 7 March 2012

What Do You Do For A Living? (2)

Imagine you are exchanging personal details with someone. Perhaps the other person is someone you have just met. Alternatively, he/she may be a relative or a friend who doesn't know what your current occupation is. When it comes to asking about occupations, the other person may want to say to you something like: "what are you doing for a living/ what do you do for a living?"

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?".

The first thing to note is that, when giving your occupation, 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 specific Spanish question, context is quite important. In the scenario described above, you may take the question as an invitation for you to say what your current occupation is. Your main concern should be about communicating what your occupation is. Perhaps you want to:

  • Give your job/ occupation*.
  • Identify where you work.
    • Sector
    • Employer/ self-employed
    • Type of workplace
    • Workplace location
  • Indicate whether you do full-time/ part-time work.

*Please note that some of these expressions vary in accordance with the gender of the person speaking. For our purpose here, we will assume that two people may be speaking:
  • María (a female).
  • Pedro (a male).

Here are some examples of how you could indicate your current occupation:
  • Soy camarera (I am a waitress -María speaking)*.
  • Soy camarero (I am a waiter -Pedro speaking)*.
  • Soy médica  ( I am a doctor -María speaking)*.
  • Soy médico  ( I am a doctor -Pedro speaking)*.
  • Soy funcionaria (I am a civil servant -María speaking)*.
  • Soy funcionario (I am a civil servant -Pedro speaking)*.
  • Soy dentista (I am a dentist -either María or Pedro speaking)*.
  • Trabajo en la construcción (I work in the construction sector -either María or Pedro speaking).
  • Trabajo en la seguridad social (I work in the National Health Service-either Pedro or Ana speaking).
  • Trabajo en un hospital (I work in a hospital-either Pedro or Ana speaking).
  • Trabajo en Madrid (I work in Madrid-either Pedro or Ana speaking).
  • Me dedico al periodismo (I am in journalism -either María or Pedro speaking).
  • Trabajo en recursos humanos (I am human resources -either María or Pedro speaking).
  • Trabajo en el Banco de España (I work for the Bank of Spain).
  • Soy autónoma (I am self-employed -María speaking).
  • Soy autónomo (I am self-employed -Pedro speaking).
  • Trabajo por mi cuenta (I am self-employed).
  • Trabajo desde casa (I work from home).
  • Trabajo a tiempo parcial en una clínica (I work part-time in a clinic -either Pedro or Ana speaking).
*Please note that when talking about professions/ occupations the "a" in English expressions, such as "I am a doctor" is not translated into Spanish. In Spanish, that expression is simply translated as "soy médico/ médica".

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

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