Saturday, July 28, 2012

Using the Verb Ir

Expressing “To Go” with the Verb Ir
In this Chapter, we learn how to form more complex Spanish sentences using the verb ir (to go), which, quite frankly, is one of the most frequently used verbs in Spanish as it is in English.

1st Person (yo) voy (nosotros, nosotras) vamos
2nd Person (tú) vas (vosotros, vosotras) vais
3rd Person (él, ella, Ud.) va (ellos, ellas, Uds.)  van

With this verb, we can create more robust sentences that can be attributed to the future tense, which is a common practice even in English.  With the verb ir, we can also start communicating with indicative sentences that have more than one verb.  These complex sentences follow a specific pattern:

Conjugation of ir  + a  +  Verb (infinitive)

Let’s put that formula to work now with some basic examples of the verb ir in action.  Remember, the subject pronoun is not always required!
Yo voy a trabajar.  I’m going to work.
Vas a caminar.  You are going to walk.
Ella va a mirar la tele.  She is going to watch television.  
Vamos a ir a la escuela.  We are going to go to the school.
Ellos van a comer.  They are going to eat.  

You’ll notice that each example follows the prescribed pattern.  The second verb is always in the infinitive form.

¡Diálogo! Read the following dialogue between friends deciding what they want to do for the evening:
Estudiante 1: ¿Vas al cine?
Estudiante 2: No, no voy al cine.  Voy a mirar la tele en casa.  
Estudiante 1: Y después, ¿vas a estudiar?  
Estudiante 2: Sí.  Tenemos un examen mañana. 
Estudiante 1: Vas a sacar buenas notas.
Estudiante 2: Ojalá.  

Using Ir to Say “Let’s”
We can form simple commands in the first person plural (nosotros) by using the same formula we learned in this chapter.  These sentences rely on context to determine the meaning.
Vamos a volar.  We’re going to fly.  or Let’s fly.
Vamos a ir.  We’re going to go.  or Let’s go.
Vamos a viajar.  We’re going to travel.  or Let’s travel.  
Vamos a dormir.  We’re going to sleep.  or Let’s sleep.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Un Debate Interesantísimo

Aquí yo les presento a Uds. un debate entre Christopher Hitchens, periodista de Vanity Fair y escritor muy conocido, y George Galloway, político de Gran Bretaña y autor.  El tema del debate es sobre la guerra de Irak de 2003.

Pay attention to the subtitles, y ¡diviértase!


Professor Joel

Saturday, July 21, 2012

How to Use Gerunds "(-ing)"

The Present Participle (Gerunds)
Now that we have several different verb tenses and their conjugations under our belt, we can start forming more robust sentences using what are known as present participles.  The present participles are also known as gerunds.
The present participle, or gerund, is akin to using a verb ending in –ing in English.  However, whereas English has the consistent –ing suffix, Spanish has a handful of different endings.
To form a present participle, or gerund, of an –ar verb, replace the infinitive suffix (-ar) with –ando:
tomar  tom- tomando (drinking)
tocar  toc  tocando (playing)
hablar  habl  hablando (speaking)

The –er and –ir verbs have the same gerund ending, which is –iendo (pronounced .  
toser  tos-  tosiendo (coughing)
vivir  viv-  viviendo (living)

There aren’t very many irregularities as far as present participles go.  Some verbs have the gerund ending –yendo in order to break up a triple vowel spelling:
caer  ca-  cayendo (falling)
leer  le-  leyendo (reading)
creer  cre-  creyendo (believing)

Verbs that pattern like pedir (to ask for) – (medir (to measure), and impedir (to block) are examples), have a slight change to the root of the gerund:
El mendigo anda pidiendo unas monedas.  The beggar is walking around asking for change.
El cocinero está midiendo una cucharada de azúcar.  The cook is measuring a spoonful of sugar.
Las ramas están impidiendo la calle.  The branches are blocking the street.

The verb morir (to die) forms the gerund by swapping the –o to –u:
Las flores están muriendo.  The flowers are dying.

The Progressive Tense
To use the participles in complete sentences, we use the verb estar plus the gerund.  In conjunction with the conjugated verb, the gerund makes up what is known as the progressive tense.  To make things easy to start off with, we’ll recall the basic, present tense conjugation of estar (to be):
Singular Plural
1st Person yo estoy nosotros estamos
2nd Person tú estás vosotros estáis
3rd Person él, ella, Ud. está ellos, ellas, Uds. están

Estoy escribiendo.  I am writing.
La nieve está cayendo.  The snow is falling.
Estamos corriendo.  We are running.
Los alumnos están leyendo.  The students are reading.
Tú estás cruzando la calle.  You are crossing the street.

Other Verbs That Use a Gerund
The verbs seguir (to follow, to continue) and continuar (to continue) can be used in a progressive tense sentence:
Sigo buscando mi corbata.  I am still looking for my tie (I continue to look for my tie).
El hombre continúa hablando.  The man keeps talking.

The verb andar (to walk) can be used in a progressive tense verb phrase meaning “to walk around ____ing”, and is used to depict something negatively.  However, it can also mean the same thing as estar + gerund, and since it can mean both, context must be taken into account.
El hombre gordo anda comiendo todo el día.  The fat man walks around eating all day.
Los niños andan estudiando.  The kids are studying.

Lastly, the verb ir (to go) can also form a progressive tense verb phrase and is used to depict something that is increasingly so:
Los exploradores fueron aprendiendo más de la gente indígena.  The explorers kept learning more about the indigenous people.
El gobierno va gastando dinero.  The government is spending more and more money.

Important Rules on Using the Gerund
The present participle (gerund) is generally the same as using the gerund in English, with a few exceptions.  The gerund in Spanish is only used for depicting an action that is factual and happening at that very moment.  Observe this English sentence:
I am driving out of the country in March.

Note that we can use the gerund of “to drive” (driving) to depict an action that will occur in the future.  However, in Spanish we can NEVER do this.  We can use either the present tense or the future tense of the verb, like this:
Manejo fuera del país en marzo.  I drive/am driving out of the country in March.
Manejaré fuera del país en marzo.  I will drive/will be driving out of the country in March.

Even further, we use the gerund in English when it is absolutely forbidden in Spanish.  For example, when something is prohibited, we say “No parking”, or
“no smoking”, etc.  In Spanish we cannot use the gerund, but rather the infinitive, like this:
No fumar.  No smoking (Smoking not allowed).
No estacionar.  No parking (Parking not allowed).
No nadar.  No swimming (Swimming not allowed).

Sunday, July 8, 2012

How To Express "Let's..." for Non-Reflexive Verbs

A student asked me today how to issue a suggestive command in the first person plural (i.e. the nosotros form), which is to say she wished to express "Let's..." as in "Let's eat" or "Let's stop", etc.

The way we do that is by using the first person plural command form, which is in the subjunctive conjugation.  Because they follow subjunctive verb conjugations, we must use the opposite vowel for the suffix (for -ar verbs, it is an "-e" based suffix and for -er/ir verbs it is an "-a" based suffix).

Comamos.  Let's eat. (from the verb comer)
Manejemos al parque.  Let's drive to the park. (from the verb manejar)
Pidamos un helado.  Let's ask for an ice cream cone.  (from the verb pedir)

Keep in mind that these are non-reflexive verbs ONLY; the reflexive verbs are slightly more difficult and foster many irregularities.

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