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Quick answer
"Dormía" is a form of "dormir", an intransitive verb which is often translated as "to sleep". "Estaba durmiendo" is a phrase which is often translated as "he was sleeping". Learn more about the difference between "estaba durmiendo" and "dormía" below.
estaba durmiendo(
ehs
-
tah
-
bah
 
door
-
myehn
-
doh
)
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
phrase
1. (third person singular)
a. he was sleeping (masculine)
Estaba durmiendo cuando sonó el teléfono, y no se despertó.He was sleeping when the phone rang, and he didn't wake up.
b. she was sleeping (feminine)
Estaba durmiendo bajo el castaño, y le cayó una castaña en la cabeza.She was sleeping under the chesnut tree, and a chesnut fell on her head.
c. it was sleeping
¿Has visto al perro? - Hace un rato estaba durmiendo en el patio.Have you seen the dog? - It was sleeping on the patio a while ago.
d. was sleeping
Rosa estaba durmiendo en el sofá con la tele encendida cuando llegamos.Rosa was sleeping on the sofa with the TV on when we arrived.
2.
A word or phrase used to refer to the second person formal “usted” by their conjugation or implied context (e.g. usted).
(formal)
(second person singular)
a. you were sleeping
Usted no ha visto el pueblo porque estaba durmiendo cuando lo pasamos.You haven't seen the town because you were sleeping when we passed through it.
3. (first person singular)
a. I was sleeping
Esta mañana, estaba durmiendo cuando sonó el despertador.I was sleeping when the alarm clock went off this morning.
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dormir(
dohr
-
meer
)
An intransitive verb is one that does not require a direct object (e.g. The man sneezed.).
1. (to rest)
a. to sleep
Hay que dormir por lo menos seis horas cada noche.One should sleep at least six hours a night.
2. (to pass the night)
a. to spend the night
Dormí en casa de mi abuela.I spent the night at my grandmother's house.
b. to stay the night
Dormimos en casa de mis suegros el Día de Acción de Gracias.We stayed the night at my in-laws' on Thanksgiving.
3. (to have sex; used with "juntos")
a. to sleep together
Creo que Marco y Ana durmieron juntos anoche.I think Marco and Ana slept together last night.
4. (to be forgotten)
a. to lie idle
Sus ahorros no han crecido porque ha dejado la cuenta dormir.His savings haven't grown because he let the account lie idle.
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
5. (to make sleepy)
a. to put to sleep
Regionalism used in the United States
(United States)
Duermo a mis niños con un cuento.I put my children to sleep with a story.
b. to get off to sleep
Voy a dormir los niños y luego regreso.I'm going to get the children off to sleep and then I'll be back.
c. to send to sleep (due to boredom)
Ese profesor duerme a sus estudiantes con su voz monótona.That teacher sends his students to sleep with his monotonous voice.
6. (to anesthetize)
a. to put to sleep
Durmieron a mi perro para limpiarle los dientes.They put my dog to sleep in order to clean his teeth.
b. to put under
Lo durmió el cirujano antes de la operación.The surgeon put him under before the operation.
7. (to euthanize; used with "a")
a. to put to sleep
Mi hermano tuvo que dormir a su perro porque tenía cáncer.My brother had to put his dog to sleep because it had cancer.
dormirse
A reflexive verb is a verb that indicates that the subject performs an action on itself (e.g. Miguel se lava.).
8. (to get to sleep)
a. to fall asleep
Me dormí a las 6 de la mañana.I fell asleep at 6 in the morning.
El programa era tan aburrido que me dormí.The program was so boring that I fell asleep.
b. to go to sleep
No pude dormirme anoche porque estaba preocupado por el examen de hoy.I couldn't go to sleep last night because I was worried about today's exam.
9. (to wake up late)
a. to oversleep
Se durmió porque no oyó el despertador.She overslept because she didn't hear the alarm.
10. (to go numb)
a. to go to sleep
No puedo ponerme en pie porque se me durmió la pierna.I can't stand up because my leg has gone to sleep.
11. (to get distracted)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
No te duermas o no acabarás a tiempo.Don't slack off or you won't finish in time.
Por dormirse se perdió la clave para ganar el premio.He missed the clue to win the prize because he didn't stay on his toes.
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