Gerunds in Spanish

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In English we can use gerunds as nouns.
Example "The listening was difficult"
"The dancing was non-stop"
"Sleepng was impossible"
Can we do the same in Spanish'

11751 views
updated ABR 23, 2013
posted by ian-hill

16 Answers

1
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Well, I thought I uderstood all this , but now you are confusing me. In English the

updated ABR 23, 2013
posted by 0074b507
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http://www.spanishlanguageguide.com/spanish/grammar/gerund.asp

Definition: The gerund is also called the present participle; however, the gerund is Not the equivalent to the English gerund.

updated ABR 23, 2013
posted by 0074b507
1
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I think you nailed it, Janice.

The way I understand it, "gerundio" in Spanish is what's called in English the "present participle". The English gerund has got nothing to do with the Spanish "gerundio". Therein lies the confusion, often. The English gerund is expressed in Spanish by the infinitive.

updated ABR 23, 2013
posted by Vikingo
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May I understand then, samdie, that the Spanish "gerundio" is the equivalent of what we call in English grammar the "present" participle and that we should probably avoid using the word "gerund"? Or do we build a gerund (add -ing to a verb) in order to form the present as opposed to the past participle? is there another word in English besides past participle for adjectives created from (regular) verbs that end in -ed? Would that be the gerundive that you write about? I have never heard that word. (To be sure, I have never had to learn too much about grammar.)

I just went to an English grammar site which introduced me to present and past participles. I even took a little testgrin (Passed!) Now I find your explanation satisfying -- the present participle and I am satisfied -- the past one. Right? But now I notice that we can use the present participle as an adjective and I guess you cannot do that in Spanish. right?

I ask because my beginner's text does not list that use for the "gerundio" - According to my lesson 12, the "gerundio" is only used to express an action going on (with estar), or continuing (with seguir) or to link two closely related actions. The text to the lesson is delightful - a piece from Gabriel Celaya (1911-1991) Por fin tengo un amigo. Let me just quote a few lines for fun. The administrators can delete my post if it seems too long or boring:

Por fin tengo un amigo,
otro pequeño imbécil como yo, sonriente,
que no lee los periódicos,
que no está preocupado,
que no tiene opinión formada sobre Europa.

Nos paseamos juntos charlando tontamente,
contándonos mentiras,
repitiendo en voz alta los nombres de los barcos
o inventando otros nuevos
para las pobres nubes que los están esperando.

(Celaya, Poesia: © Amparo Gatón)

This is one set of rules I am sure to remember, having written them now about three times today here in the forum. I just hope that they are not only correct, but complete!

samdie said:

The terminology can be confusing. In Latin a 'gerund' is a 'varbal' used as a noun and a 'gerundive' is a verbal used as an adjective. In English we mostly use the present participle as a noun (although it's possible to use the infinitive as a noun, too) and the present/past participle as an adjective. Spanish uses the infinitive as nouns and (normally) past participles as adjectives.

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updated ABR 23, 2013
posted by Janice
1
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The terminology can be confusing. In Latin a 'gerund' is a 'varbal' used as a noun and a 'gerundive' is a verbal used as an adjective.
In English we mostly use the present participle as a noun (although it's possible to use the infinitive as a noun, too) and the present/past participle as an adjective. Spanish uses the infinitive as nouns and (normally) past participles as adjectives.

updated ABR 23, 2013
posted by samdie
1
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We use infinitives (not gerunds) in a similar way, but only if there is noun for it (there are also other restrictions):

Fue imposible dormir = Sleeping was impossible
Me gusta comer = I like eating

For "The dancing was non stop" you use "baile". Spanish gerunds are adverbs, and in some specific cases, adjectives, but never nouns.

updated ABR 23, 2013
posted by lazarus1907
1
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This is a very interesting question. I returned to my textbook's lesson 12 which introduces the "gerundio and gives examples of how to use it. But I only found uses such as expressing an action that is taking place right now, or an action that is continuing or another use of the gerund to link two closely related actions. No other uses are given for the gerund. Mind you, this is a textbook for the beginner, but it is very systematic!

Then I looked up "sleeping" in the dictionary, which returned "sueño, reposo, descanso" in the category sustantivo and "durmiente; calmante, adormecedor" as examples of the participio activo (whatever that isgrin

My guess is that the Spanish speaker uses the infinitive in those instances in which English would employ the gerund as a noun.

But now I hope that someone else has a grammar for the more advanced learner (or even a grammar for the native speaker) and can give us a definitive answer. In the meantime, I may "google" this question. It is interesting to learn how different languages manage to express similar kinds of experience in different ways, don't you think'

updated ABR 23, 2013
posted by Janice
1
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I looked at my explanation and realized how confusing it can be. The basic thing to realize it that there is an English gerund (noun) and a Spanish gerund (present participle).
When we get confused is when we read an explanation in English about the Spanish gerund. Since the speaker is speaking English when he says gerund we think English gerund when he is actually referring to the Spanish gerund.
It's like in the quote that I post from a grammar site.
His first statement is that "the gerund is also called the present participle" . He is talking about the Spanish gerund (gerundio); not the English gerund. The English gerund is not called the present participle. The fact that he is speaking English discussing Spanish grammar is misleading. He should be differentiating between the two uses of the word "gerund".

updated ABR 23, 2013
posted by 0074b507
1
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So really, "gerundio" and "gerund" are what one might call false cognates. (I just learned that phrase, too, and I really like it!)

There is an English gerund, of course, and it is formed by adding the -ing to the verb. However, one does not know by the form, but rather only via the context, what part of speech it is playing and so it may be a noun or an adjective, (which is a present participle), either of which can be created by forming this gerund. Now I think maybe I do have it nailed. Gerund is "over" both noun, and present participle, which is itself over adjective and something else for which I do not know the name (e.g., the "going" in "He is going to town").

Or do I still have it not quite right and it is correct, in fact, to state that a present participle can be used as a noun, etc.? What I am trying to ask is: does the phrase/term "present participle" refer to the particular use of a gerund, now that we know that the term gerund simply refers to how the word is formed?

I think that I am mixing myself up. But there has got to be a unifying concept in here somewhere!

Anyway, ignore me. This being a Spanish forum, I am happy enough to realize that the Spanish gerundio is not so complicated.

Quentin said:

http://www.spanishlanguageguide.com/spanish/grammar/gerund.asp Definition: The gerund is also called the present participle; however, the gerund is Not the equivalent to the English gerund.

updated ABR 23, 2013
posted by Janice
1
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You are very kind. But all I really did was understand samdie. This was all new knowledge to me, too! But what a wonderful poem, don't you agree?

Vikingo said:

I think you nailed it, Janice.

The way I understand it, "gerundio" in Spanish is what's called in English the "present participle". The English gerund has got nothing to do with the Spanish "gerundio". Therein lies the confusion, often. The English gerund is expressed in Spanish by the infinitive.

>

updated ABR 23, 2013
posted by Janice
0
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I will get corrected myself if I am wrong, Winston, but I think you would have to write: "Tuve problemas de escuchar"

I think it is a terrific idea, by the way to say something in a different way if unsure of how to say it in the way you might try first based on your native language. With such a positive approach, you should never have trouble communicating no matter your level of Spanishgrin

Winston said:

well if you're unsure, like i am, you can always just take your english phrase using the gerund as a noun and when translating it into spanish just change the word order/content to make your meaning clear:"The listening was difficult"---|>"Tuve problemas de escuchando", o "Los ejercicios de escuchar fueron dificíl"hope i helped, and hope my spanish was right raspberry.....

>

updated FEB 2, 2009
posted by Janice
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Well, maybe it is because you were answering our questions, Quentin, but I thought your explanation was clearer. And maybe, too, it is really because that Spanish grammar site should not have been using the English word "gerund" -

updated FEB 2, 2009
posted by Janice
0
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Ahhh...another candidate post to be moved directly to the reference section. I actually think I understand this now.

Quentin said:

I think that we are confusing you. There's a lot of terminology here. In English the verb +

updated FEB 2, 2009
posted by Janice
0
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I think that we are confusing you. There's a lot of terminology here. In English the verb +

updated FEB 2, 2009
posted by 0074b507
0
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Does it then become the past participle when used with a past form of To Be'
I am reading a book. I WAS reading a book. Or is it to be thought of as the present participle simply used with the past form of To Be '

tha past participle of the verb to be : (third column) been

I am boring (adjective) Soy aburrido but I am boring you ( present participle) Te estoy abburriendo.

that's correct.

As I understand it then the verb + ing in English is a gerund (noun) when there is no To Be verb with it

And in these cases it normally corresponds to an infinitive in Spanish.

Cooking is difficult. Cocinar no es fácil.

updated FEB 2, 2009
posted by 00494d19