I'm continuing my preparation for the DELE C2 exam and I came across a curly grammar question when taking one of the previous exams (13 May 2006). In this exam, I was asked the following question:

  1. _____________ viajando como se conocen culturas diferentes.

a. Està b. Es

From my previous experience I am very familiar with estar + gerund to describe an action in progress. However, in this case, the correct answer is ser (Es). From all my time learning and reading Spanish I have seen a ser + gerund construction maybe 2 or 3 times, meaning something very rare. My teacher gave my an explanation over ser + gerund in class which made no sense at all, so if someone can enlighten me over this point I would be grateful (some other examples would be useful).

  • Posted Sep 5, 2011
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8 Answers



I'm continuing my preparation for the DELE C2 exam

DELE C2 is the level of a well educated native speaker!

_____________ viajando como se conocen culturas diferentes.

GuitarWarrio and others gave you the proper translation. This is not a case of "ser/estar + gerundio", but a type of construction called "enfática de relativo", where you place emphasis in a particular part of the sentence by "classifying" it with "ser". E.g.

Quiero pan -> Lo que quiero es pan

No quiero ir al cine -> Lo que no quiero es ir al cine

Se aprende viajando -> Como se aprende es viajando

Se aprende viajando -> Viajando es como se aprende / Es viajando como se aprende

In English, literally it would be like "It is travelling how you learn"

  • Wait, but word order is more important in English. Doesn't it translate as "Traveling is how you learn" ? - Valerie Sep 5, 2011


Viajando, se conocen culturas diferentes.

Traveling, one is familiar with different cultures.

Es viajando como se conocen culturas diferentes.

Traveling is how one is familiar with different cultures.


It's by traveling that one is familiar with different cultures.

I hope this helps smile



"Viajando es como se conocen culturas diferentes" would be the orignial structure. In this case you can put the verb at the beginning of the sentence without changing the meaning. This is a way for you to recognise what is the correct verb.

Hope it helps!

  • I didn't think you could use the gerundio as a noun. - lorenzo9 Sep 5, 2011
  • Good explanation. "Would" (typo, tough to recognize for a non-English speaker) - Jeremias Sep 5, 2011


Yeah I gotta side with GuitarWarrior.

By + -ing noun is tanslated to Spanish using the gerundio (Thank you, Deanski)

Se conocen culturas diferentes ---> Passive construction. (95% sure)

So the sentence here is ....

It is (= es) by traveling that different cultures are discovered.


Different cultures are experienced or discovered by traveling.

If you use estar, then it will mean something like..

He/ she/ it is traveling how different cultures are discovered, which doesn't make any sense.

  • I thought "by -ing" was translated as "con infinitive" - lorenzo9 Sep 5, 2011


oración enfática de relativo. Oración perifrástica (→ perífrasis, 1) de intención enfática, en la que el verbo ser une dos componentes oracionales entre los que existe una relación de identidad, de los cuales el segundo va encabezado siempre por un pronombre o un adverbio relativo (→ relativo, 1): Con esta arma es con la que se cometió el crimen; Ayer fue cuando vi a tu mujer.

Is this definition correct?

  • Sep 6, 2011
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None of these explanations make sense to me.

  • Sep 5, 2011
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I believe that is a gerundio, not a gerund. But anyway, this is a great question! grin

  • Sep 5, 2011
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Interesting. Could one say:

Es por viajar como se conoce culturas diferentes ?

This would probably be (rightly or wrongly) how I would have translated

'Traveling is how one is familiar with different cultures'

also, aside from the main question why is se conocen used?

  • Sep 7, 2011
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  • "Por viajar" = "because (you) travel". "Se conocen" is similar to "are known" - lazarus1907 Sep 7, 2011
  • thanks lazarus - 5point Sep 7, 2011