gerund in the past

zeppo

Senior Member
USA


  • We had to leave the flat on Loomis quick. The water pipes broke and the landlord wouldn't fix them because the house was too old. We had to leave fast. We were using the washroom next door and carrying water over in empty milk gallons.

  • Tuvimos que salir volados del departamento
  • de Loomis. Los tubos del agua se rompían y el casero no los reparaba porque la casa era muy vieja. Salimos corriendo. Teníamos que usar el baño del vecino y acarrear agua en botes lecheros de un galón.
Obviously, the translator (Elena Poniatowska) takes liberties with the above, including her own "Salimos corriendo," for example, instead of a direct translation from the English. I am curious, however, in her choice for the last sentence. Is the gerund is not commonly used in Spanish in reference to the past? ie., "Estábamos usando el baño del vecino y acarreando agua..."
 
  • supercrom

    Banned
    Homo peruvianus, practising AE n' learning BE
    zeppo said:
    • We had to leave the flat on Loomis quick. The water pipes broke and the landlord wouldn't fix them because the house was too old. We had to leave fast. We were using the washroom next door and carrying water over in empty milk gallons.
      [*]
      Tuvimos que salir volados del departamento
      de Loomis. Los tubos del agua se rompían y el casero no los reparaba porque la casa era muy vieja. Salimos corriendo. Teníamos que usar el baño del vecino y acarrear agua en botes lecheros de un galón.
    Obviously, the translator (Elena Poniatowska) takes liberties with the above, saying "Salimos corriendo," for example. I am curious in her choice for the last sentence. Is the gerund is not commonly used in Spanish in reference to the past? ie., "Estábamos usando el baño del vecino y acarreando agua..."

    In this translation, I just don't like so much "Salimos corriendo", maybe "salimos rápido". And I can also say "tubos de(l) agua se rompieron" instead of "rompían", but in "we were using" I supossed it comes from "we are to" (< "teníamos que").
    Debíamos o teníamos (We had to, we must), according to the context.

    :)
     

    zeppo

    Senior Member
    USA
    cromteaches said:
    In this translation, I just don't like so much "Salimos corriendo", maybe "salimos rápido". And I can also say "tubos de(l) agua se rompieron" instead of "rompían"
    :)

    I'm glad you mentioned that about the pipes. I was thinking that rompieron would be appropriate as well, so at least I know I would have been okay in my choice.
     

    Rayines

    Senior Member
    Castellano/Argentina
    Hola:
    Tuvimos que salir volados
    is: "Tuvimos que salir volando". I explain it in Spanish, because I don't find the words in English:
    En este caso el gerundio desempeña la función de un adverbio de modo. Tú preguntas: "¿Cómo tuvimos que salir?", y respondes: "Volando" (gerundio en función de un adverbio de modo)
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    zeppo said:


    • We had to leave the flat on Loomis quick. The water pipes broke and the landlord wouldn't fix them because the house was too old. We had to leave fast. We were using the washroom next door and carrying water over in empty milk gallons.

    • Tuvimos que salir volados del departamento
    • de Loomis. Los tubos del agua se rompían y el casero no los reparaba porque la casa era muy vieja. Salimos corriendo. Teníamos que usar el baño del vecino y acarrear agua en botes lecheros de un galón.
    Obviously, the translator (Elena Poniatowska) takes liberties with the above, including her own "Salimos corriendo," for example, instead of a direct translation from the English. I am curious, however, in her choice for the last sentence. Is the gerund is not commonly used in Spanish in reference to the past? ie., "Estábamos usando el baño del vecino y acarreando agua..."

    Just to talk about the question you ask about the use of the gerund here (since others have answered very well on some of the other parts of the narrative) -

    No, it is used equally in the past as in the present. However this is an example of where the gerund of English and Spanish don't coincide. If I wanted to say in the present tense in English "it's awful, our toilet is broken so we are using the neighbour's" you couldn't translate this into Spanish by "estamos utilizando...". It is more "present" in Spanish (obviously I don't mean I am literally sitting on the toilet as I tell you this!) The sense is "we have to.." and so I fully agree with the original translation you give, in this respect.
     

    zeppo

    Senior Member
    USA
    Thanks. I believe I understand.
    "Estábamos usando el baño del vecino y acarreando agua..."
    The above would take the reader back to the point of the narrative where this action was actually taking place. This not really the intent of the original English, which instead was to reference the condition that existed without taking the reader back to a specific action or instance. So "tener que" is used instead to convey the English meaning.
     

    mjscott

    Senior Member
    American English
    I thought a "gerund" was a verb that in its -ing form is used as a noun. Please correct me. I thought that in the following sentence, "swimming" is a gerund--a noun:
    "There is no swimming in the pond since they stocked the water with fish."
    Please clarify as to which -ing word is a gerund in the original context in this thread?
    Thanks
     

    Rayines

    Senior Member
    Castellano/Argentina
    Does this help?:
    (Del Diccionario de la Real Academia Española):

    "gerundio1.
    (Del lat. gerundĭum).
    1. m. Gram. Forma invariable no personal del verbo, cuya terminación regular, en español, es -ando en los verbos de la primera conjugación, -iendo o -yendo en los de la segunda y tercera. Amando, temiendo, partiendo. Suele denotar acción o estado durativos. Estoy leyendo. Seguiré trabajando. Tiene más generalmente carácter adverbial, y puede expresar modo, condición, tiempo, motivo, concesión y otras circunstancias. Vino corriendo. Hablando se entiende la gente. Se emplea a veces en construcciones absolutas. Consultando el diccionario, descubrí esa palabra.
    ~ compuesto.
    1. m. Gram. El que se forma con el gerundio del verbo haber y el participio del verbo que se conjuga. Habiendo estado."
    I thought a "gerund" was a verb that in its -ing form is used as a noun
    I think this counts in English. In Spanish we use the infinitive in some of those cases: Swimming= el nadar.
     

    zeppo

    Senior Member
    USA
    mjscott said:
    I thought a "gerund" was a verb that in its -ing form is used as a noun. Please correct me. I thought that in the following sentence, "swimming" is a gerund--a noun:
    "There is no swimming in the pond since they stocked the water with fish."
    Please clarify as to which -ing word is a gerund in the original context in this thread?
    Thanks

    We were using the washroom next door and carrying water over in empty milk gallons.
     

    mjscott

    Senior Member
    American English
    In re: to "We were using the washroom next door and carrying water over in empty milk gallons."

    Found on Bartleby's reference
    http://www.bartleby.com/64/C001/028.html

    "Gerunds are verb forms ending in -ing that act as nouns. They can be the subject of a sentence (Skiing is her favorite sport), the object of a verb (She enjoys skiing), or the object of a preposition (She devoted her free time to skiing). Gerunds can be modified like nouns (That book makes for difficult reading). But they can also act like verbs in that they can take an object (Convincing him was never easy) and be modified by an adverb (Walking daily can improve your health)."

    I know that I can use an auxiliary verb and a word that looks like a gerund, but I think when it's in its verb form, it is a verb.
    He was swimming in the deep end. (swimming is part of the verb, was swimming)
    He enjoys swimming. (enjoys is the verb, and swimming is a noun)

    Have I just confused everyone, including me?
    :] ;)
     

    carmen37

    Member
    España/ español
    Sorry, but i'll try to explain in spanish. En este caso pienso que la traducción inicial es totalmente correcta. Cuando habla en pasado, habla de un pasado "continuo". No lo hicieron una sola vez, acarrear agua, etc. Sino que lo hacían a menudo. Tenian que ...... They had to......, todos los dias, o frecuentemente. Si dices estabamos acarreando, indicas que fue en un momento determinado.

    Desde luego yo hablaría así; "cuando era pequeña teníamos que comer todos los dias en el colegio". No díria "estabamos comiendo en el colegio cuando..." eso indicaría un momento determinado.

    Espero haberme explicado.
     

    zeppo

    Senior Member
    USA
    thank you for your help. It is the finer points of these matters that often make the biggest difference to me in understanding and retaining the rules of use.
     
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