Saturday, 16 February 2013

Tell Me, Who Is Still Studying Spanish?


SCENARIO
Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or a colleague. You are catching up with each other. The subject of your Spanish studies becomes the focus of the conversation. Especially the fact that one or two people who had taken up Spanish with you now appear to have given up. The other person wants an update and says to you something like: "tell me, who is still studying Spanish?".

In Spanish, he/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime, ¿quién sigue estudiando español?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
Dígame, ¿quién sigue estudiando español?


OUR TIP
The question is an invitation for you to identify the person(s) who have given up studying Spanish. When identifying another person, you may need to consider different levels of formality for you reply. That is specifically so when the person you are talking to is referenced in your answer, either as an individual or as part of a group. In such cases, you will have to choose between a less formal/ familiar answer and a more formal answer. The examples below illustrate those choices

Here are some examples of how you could reply:
  • Yo sigo estudiando* español (I am still studying Spanish);
  • Tú no sigues estudiando* español, ¿verdad? (you are no longer studying Spanish, are you?- familiar);
  • Usted no sigue estudiando* español, ¿verdad? (you are no longer studying Spanish, are you?- formal);
  • Tu amigo Pedro sigue estudiando* español, ¿no? (your friend Pedro is still studying Spanish, isn't he?- familiar).
  • Su amigo Pedro sigue estudiando* español, ¿no? (your friend Pedro is still studying Spanish, isn't he?- formal).
  • Nosotros seguimos estudiando* español (we are still studying Spanish);
  • Vosotros no seguís estudiando* español, ¿verdad? (you- plural are no longer studying Spanish, are you?- familiar);
  • Ustedes no siguen estudiando* español, ¿verdad? (you- plural are no longer studying Spanish, are you?- formal);
  • Peter y Ann siguen estudiando* español (Peter and Ann are still studying Spanish);

Now you should practise replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿quién sigue estudiando español?

*Please see grammar below

Grammar-Gerund
The Spanish gerund is the verb form which corresponds to the English -ing ending gerund/ present participle. In Spanish, the gerund is formed by adding -ando to the stem of -ar ending verbs, and adding -iendo to the stems of -er or -ir ending verbs. In Spanish all gerunds are formed as shown in Table 1 below:

Verb Ending
Example
Corresponding Gerund
-ar
trabajar
trabajando
-er
comer
comiendo
-ir
vivir
viviendo

Table 1 – Spanish Gerunds

Please note that there are some important differences between the Spanish gerund and the English gerund/ present participle. The main differences are:
  • The Spanish gerund should not be used to translate an English -ing ending verb form when that verb form is used as compound noun. See examples below:
    • drinking water ↔ agua potable
    • swimming pool ↔ piscina
    • fuel saving ↔ ahorro de combustible
    • hard-working person ↔ persona trabajadora

  • The Spanish gerund should not be used to translate an English -ing ending verb form when that verb form is used as a noun which is the subject in sentences* such as:
    • eating fruit is good ↔ comer fruta es bueno
    • parking is not allowed ↔ no está permitido aparcar
    • travelling is what I like best ↔ lo que más me gusta es viajar

  • The Spanish gerund should not be used to translate an English -ing ending verb form when that verb form is a noun which is preceded by a preposition*. See examples below:
    • before eating ↔ antes de comer
    • after parking ↔ después de aparcar
    • without speaking ↔ sin hablar

  • The Spanish gerund should not be used to translate English -ing ending verb form when that verb form is a noun which is a direct object of certain verbs, such as, hate, like and similar*. See examples below:
    • I hate getting up early ↔ detesto madrugar
    • do you like swimming? ↔ ¿te gusta nadar?

*NB In such cases, in Spanish we us the infinitive instead.


In Spanish the gerund is used in the following main situations:

    1. Continuous Form- Verbs
In Spanish, we commonly use “estar” followed by a gerund to form continuous verb tenses. Continuous verb tenses are used to indicate ongoing actions, which often take place at the time of speaking, but may also take place at other times also.

Although the most common use of the continuous form of verb tenses is found in the present and imperfect tenses, its use is not restricted to those tenses. In fact, the continuous form may be used with all verb tenses. Some examples of the use of the gerund in continuous forms of verbs with a variety of tenses are:
  • Estoy escribiendo una carta (I am writing a letter);
  • Estabas mirando la tele, ¿verdad? (you were watching TV, weren't you?);
  • Pedro estará llegando por la mañana temprano (Pedro will be arriving early in the morning);
  • Hemos estado cenando en un restaurate muy típico (we have been dining in a very traditional restaurant);
  • Estuvisteis viajando por los Estados Unidos (you people have been travelling in the USA);
  • Espero que John y Ann lo estén pasando muy bien (I hope that John and Ann are having a good time);


    2. Emphasise Action Duration
In Spanish, we commonly use some verbs, especially,andar”, “continuar”, “ir” and “seguir” followed by a gerund to emphasise the duration of an action. Examples of this use are:
  • Sigo contando con vosotros (I am still counting/ I have not given up counting on you);
  • Continúas estudiando ¿verdad? (you are still studying, aren't you?);
  • Van pasando los años (the years keep going by);
  • Andan diciendo que queréis iros (they keep saying that you (pl) want to leave);


3. Simultaneous Actions
In Spanish, we commonly use the gerund to indicate actions which take place at the same time as the main verb action. Examples of this use are:
  • Pedro estaba tumbado en la cama durmiendo (Pedro was lying in bed asleep);
  • John y Ann se pasean por el parque charlando (John and Ann are walking in the park chatting);

Now you should practise the uses of the gerund with some examples of your own.


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