beginning and end of verbs

1
vote

I would like to know the opinion of people whose mother tongue is English about the "naturalness" of these sentences describing mechanically the beginning and the end of an action. I am interested in people's natural 'feeling? regarding these sentences and not formal explanations or corrections (as I am aware of them).

If you don't mind indulging my curiosity, please tell me whether each one "is fine", "sounds a bit strange", "is plain wrong" or any other comment in none of the previous ones apply. Thanks.

1) If you say you were talking to him at 13:00, you could say that you started to talk at 12:00 and you finished at 14:00.

2) If you say you were wearing a shirt at 13:00, you could say that you started to wear it at 12:00 and you finished at 14:00.

3) If you say you were going home at 13:00, you can could that you started to go home at 12:00 and you finished going home at 14:00.

4) If you say you were having a good time at 13:00, you can could that you started to have a good time at 12:00 and you finished having it at 14:00.

5) If you say you were having a shower at 13:00, you can could that you started to have a shower at 12:00 and you finished having it at 14:00.

13103 views
updated MAY 29, 2011
posted by lazarus1907

57 Answers

1
vote

Sentence 5 -- No one "has" a shower. In America we "take" showers. And, I agree with others, if you're taking a shower for two hours you have more problems than your translation. Caveat: In the second person in English, the "tu" in espanol, moms sometimes ask their children, or spouses ask their spouses, "Have you had your shower yet'"

Caveat 2: When real estate agents are describing a home to prospective home buyers, they might say something like, "The bathroom has a shower", or "The basement has a shower." But again, people don't "have" showers, they "take" them.

I'd be quite interested to learn more about the language theory you are working on. It sounds interesting.

I must say...Estavan, jeje, we do have a shower in England every day!!!!

to have a shower is British, to take a shower is American English. smile

updated MAY 29, 2011
posted by 00494d19
1
vote

James Santiago said:

1) If you say you were talking to him at 13:00, you could say that you started to talk at 12:00 and you finished at 14:00. Logically true.

And "Me estoy duchando" is fine too.

James Santiago said:

2) If you say you were wearing a shirt at 13:00, you could say that you started to wear it at 12:00 and you finished at 14:00. Sounds odd

"Estoy llevando una camisa" sounds odd too.

James Santiago said:

3) If you say you were going home at 13:00, you could say that you started to go home at 12:00 and you finished going home at 14:00. Sounds odd

"Estoy yendo" sounds odd too (if we mean right now)

James Santiago said:

4) If you say you were having a good time at 13:00, you could say that you started to have a good time at 12:00 and you finished having it at 14:00. Logically fine

"Me estoy divirtiendo" is fine too.

This is the whole point: whereas in English the present progressive is for actions happening right now (and future plans, but that's another story) as opposed to the simple present, which is for habitual actions, the Spanish progressive requires delimited actions, which is why verbs like "ir" or "wear" are not used with the progressive (in most countries).

Nice analysis, by the way. You could have intervened earlier.

updated MAY 29, 2011
posted by lazarus1907
1
vote

Janice said:

Reading the comments, I returned to re-read your sentences. It occurred to me that sentence number five sounds strange because we do not have showers in (American) English. We take showers.

I forgot that American take showers and British have showers, but the whole point was about starting and ending an action anyway.

updated MAY 29, 2011
posted by lazarus1907
1
vote

Pergolesi said:

"but you cannot say "estoy yendo" (=going),"

I'm wondering why not? We in English say "I'm going" for "me voy" and of course it's customary to say "me voy" but in what context is "yendo" appropriate to use? That is, if you can't say "estoy yendo" can you say "está/están/estas yendo'" And in what context?

In Spain "Estoy yendo" for "I'm going" is simply unacceptable, whereas "me estoy duchando" for "I'm having a shower" is not just correct, but the most common way to express it. All the questions I asked in this thread have to do with the intrinsic difference between verbs which leads to some verbs accepting the progressive, but not others.

updated MAY 29, 2011
posted by lazarus1907
1
vote

Natasha said:

most of the time, we change the verb to avoid sounding silly if we want to emphasize the start, duration, and end of an event. For example: I was in labor for X hours. I went into labor at Y time and the baby was born at Z time.

Precisely the fact that you have to change the verb is what I was checking. If you can do it with some verbs, but not with others, there must be a reason behind it, there must be a difference between those verbs.

I have the feeling (but I am still checking), if you have to make those changes to avoid sounding ridiculous, you cannot use the progressive tenses in (standard) Spanish. For example, you can say "estoy caminando", and "I started walking this morning" and "I stopped walking an hour ago" don't sound so bad (I hope), but you cannot say "estoy yendo" (=going), and interestingly, "I started going this morning" and "I stopped going an hour ago" sound... well, you tell me, hehe. As I said, it is just a theory, but I don't want to jump to conclusions yet.

updated MAY 29, 2011
posted by lazarus1907
1
vote

Pergolesi said:

IAs Janice points out, you don't say you "finished" wearing a shirt or getting home, and you probably wouldn't say you "finished" having a good time either, though you can say you finished speaking at a particular time.

Excellent! That's what I hoped to hear from you. And why do you think you can't say finish wearing a shirt when you take it off'

updated MAY 29, 2011
posted by lazarus1907
1
vote

I forgot to mention something (I can't even explain myself): what I meant by "natural" is a sentence that sounds coherent (even if it is formal) and makes enough sense for someone to use it in a real situation. This is really difficult to explain, but can you really say "I finished my going to someone's house" like you'd say "I finished my shower"? Can you find a way to describe the end of both actions using the same words so they both sound natural'

updated MAY 29, 2011
posted by lazarus1907
1
vote

Before I made those silly "can / could" mistakes, I was hoping to get lots of comments about No. 3, but apparently, only Marc and Janice seem to see things my way. Actually, Janice's comments are EXACTLY what I expected; thanks! (and to the rest: sorry that I didn't make myself clear).

Anyway, the "started to" and "finished" were intentional. Maybe I should have given a different list, such as "a bit strange", "something is not quite right" and "completely unacceptable".

Just in case you're wondering: I am testing a grammatical theory, and I needed some rather fictitious scenarios to observe people's cognitive impressions of them, in order to try to improve future explanations for English speakers learning Spanish (as my English is not that good).

Gus, why did you find #5 stranger than #4? Can you put it in words'

updated MAY 29, 2011
posted by lazarus1907
1
vote

The "can / could" is an obvious mistake; I meant to delete "can" and write "could". Sorry.

updated MAY 29, 2011
posted by lazarus1907
0
votes

Hola amigos: Gracias por la interesante discusión pero creo que ya nos hemos desviado del tema original demasiado.

Please open a new thread if you wish to continue with this discussion.

Muchas gracias smile

Hilo cerrado.

updated MAY 7, 2009
posted by 00494d19
0
votes

I am having breakfast/lunch/dinner
John is having a conversation
They are having a meeting
We are having a shower

This is the dynamic form of the verb "to have" and unlike its stative brother can describe an activity in progress (as opposed to a state of possession).

updated MAY 7, 2009
posted by Robert-Austin
0
votes

Okay, if I understand what you're asking, you want to know how the sentences sound and if a person would use your construction and vocabulary in normal American written or spoken conversation.
I'm not going reiterate all the detail the others have. Several have covered the grammatical ground quite adequately.
As a teacher of English in both high school and college and a professional writer my opinion (because you wanted us to avoid the facts) is that all the sentences sound awkward to me.
Reason 1 -- No one in America that I know uses 24-hour time references spoken or written unless he or she is in the military. Military uses a 24-hour clock all the time, as well as some established scientific government organizations. Some companies that do business internationally use military time, but in normal conversation--NO.

Reason 2 -- As others have mentioned . . .
Sentence 1 -- You could use that construction if in the context of the conversation the duration of the conversation was important. For instance, someone might ask you, "How long did you two talk'"
Sentence 2 -- Again, the context might add some clarity. If you were trying on a new shirt, but decided you didn't like it, or you wanted to change clothes, you could say it that way and it might make sense. If you walked up to a friend and said it like you wrote it, they would probably look at you as if you were weird (for a further reference on weird talk to senor Santiago).
Sentence 3 -- Once again context of the remark would make all the difference. I can't imagine why you would say, or anyone would want to know when you STARTED going home. Most folks would just say, "I got home at 2:00.
Sentence 4 -- I hope I never finish having a good time. American listeners I know would consider it a weird statement.
Sentence 5 -- No one "has" a shower. In America we "take" showers. And, I agree with others, if you're taking a shower for two hours you have more problems than your translation. Caveat: In the second person in English, the "tu" in espanol, moms sometimes ask their children, or spouses ask their spouses, "Have you had your shower yet'"
Caveat 2: When real estate agents are describing a home to prospective home buyers, they might say something like, "The bathroom has a shower", or "The basement has a shower." But again, people don't "have" showers, they "take" them.
I'd be quite interested to learn more about the language theory you are working on. It sounds interesting.

updated MAY 6, 2009
posted by Estavan-Sawyer
0
votes

Hola a todos.

I think I am not good enough to answer these questions. But I still would like to add my common on.

Honestly, I think these five sentences do not sound natural and Americans probably wouldn't say them in real situation. However, that doesn't mean these sentences are grammatically incorrect. As many people know, some construction or uses might be very common in period of time, but would be unnatural or strange if people didn't use them for a while. (Please correct me if I am wrong.)

By the way, these sentences are correct if I translate them to my native language directly. :D

Thank you,

Marco

updated MAR 30, 2009
posted by Marco-T
0
votes

Hi Martial, welcome to the forum cool smile

updated MAR 28, 2009
posted by 00494d19
0
votes

1) If you say you were talking to him at 13:00, you could say that you started to talk at 12:00 and you finished at 14:00.

2) If you say you were wearing a shirt at 13:00, you could say that you started to wear it at 12:00 and you finished at 14:00.

3) If you say you were going home at 13:00, you can could that you started to go home at 12:00 and you finished going home at 14:00.

4) If you say you were having a good time at 13:00, you can could that you started to have a good time at 12:00 and you finished having it at 14:00.

5) If you say you were having a shower at 13:00, you can could that you started to have a shower at 12:00 and you finished having it at 14:00.

These all sound like they were written by a robot or an English text book. Nobody talks like that. Loosen up. Some things in a sentence are just understood.

updated MAR 28, 2009
posted by Martial