Icelandic: að sofa / sofandi

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by ShakeyX, Apr 24, 2013.

  1. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    So just to be clear in all languages, the participle is used differently but a participle on it's own is just a word formed from a verb that can be used as an adjective (simply).

    In the case of English you use the present participle to form the continuous whereas in icelandic you use the infinitive. Right?

    So, whats the difference between saying... ertu að sofa / ertu sofandi?

    Cheers, Jake
  2. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    You use vera + present participle in non-agentive constructions, but not in agentive ones (for the most part (see comment below)).
    For a verb like 'sleep' you could only really say 'ertu sofandi' in the meaning of 'are you asleep/sleeping'. When you have verbs of extended duration or states of mind, you don't normally use the vera að construction.

    So you get an alternation like:

    a. Hann er að borða:tick:
    b. Hann er borðandi:cross:

    a. Hann er að sofa:cross:
    b. Hann er sofandi:tick:

    When you add adverbs like alltaf into it, you can then normally have both options (Hann er alltaf að borða / Hann er alltaf borðandi). Without any additions like this, it's the same restriction as above.

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