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Spanish Language/Present Simple and Present Continuous

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Question
Based on my knowledge, "what do you do?" will translate to Spanish as "Que haces?", and "What are you doing?" as "Que estas haciendo?". But often, I have noticed that many Spanish speakers use the Present Simple form of a sentence to as a Present Continuous. Is this true, or do I have some misunderstanding?

Thanks.

Answer
Hi Ashish,

Thanks very much for your question.

The first thing to bear in mind is that the way the Spanish gerund works can be rather different from how we use it in English. Firstly, although you have rightly stated that 'what do you do' is 'que haces' and 'what are you doing' is 'que estas haciendo', these two phrases are pretty much interchangeable with the only real difference being that the gerund 'estar haciendo' brings the sentence right up to date asking the speaker what he is doing at this precise moment in time.

Despite this perhaps seeming the correct phrase to use, it is more common to hear Spanish people asking each other 'que haces?' - a far quicker and abbreviated form which would be favoured particularly when asking a question as it is more direct and to the point.

Nonetheless, it is not surprising to hear the response to 'que haces' being in the gerund - e.g. estoy viendo la tele.

If you think of the gerund as the English 'in the process of', this can make things a little clearer as one is not very likely to say 'What are you in the process/middle of doing?' whereas one is more likely to reply 'I'm in the middle of watching TV' for example.

Hope this helps,
Kind regards,
Lauren

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Lauren O' Hagan

Expertise

Although not my mother tongue, I consider myself a native speaker in Spanish after studying the language for many years, using it on a daily basis at home and having last year obtained my DELE C2 - the highest possible qualification in Spanish from the Instituto Cervantes. I am very confident to answer any questions about the Spanish language. I can also answer specific questions related to Andalucia and the Andalucian dialect as I have a profound knowledge of this area.

Experience

MA Applied Linguistics First Class Honours in Modern Language Studies (Linguistics, Italian, Spanish) C2 (Native Level) DELE Diploma from Instituto Cervantes Grade A A-level in Spanish My partner is Spanish so Spanish is the main language spoken at home. I also spend many months in Spain (Andalucia) each year with my in-laws. I have translated and proofread many Spanish documents including CVs for art academies and translations of GCSE papers from French to Spanish for ZigZag Education.

Publications
El Pensador, Bristol University

Education/Credentials
MA Applied Linguistics BA Hons Modern Language Studies DELE C2 in Spanish. CILS C1 in Italian CELTA qualified A Level Spanish

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