(S) Present tense or present participle?

enmar884

Member
American English
In Spanish, is the present participle common or even necessary in everyday speech?

For example, if I wanted to say "I am eating..."
Can I just say "(yo) Como..." or do I need to say "(yo) Estoy comiendo..."?

I know I've seen "Busco..." in lieu of "Estoy buscando..." and "¿Que haces?" in lieu of "¿Que estás haciendo?" so I'm wondering if the same goes for all verbs?
 
  • jsvillar

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    While you get better answers, which I'm sure many people in this forum will provide, I'll try to answer:

    Present participle is absolutely common, and the usage is quite similar to English, with the meaning of 'right now'. It is it is very similar to present tense, so normally you can choose any of them. The only difference is that since present tense is shorter, sometimes it might imply a non polite answer. So, the difference between 'busco - ¿qué haces?' and 'estoy buscando - ¿qué estás haciendo?' is just the difference between 'now' and 'right now'.

    Some examples, all of them correct usage:

    ¿Que estás haciendo? / ¿Qué haces?
    - Estoy comiendo
    - Como (normal answer, but also can mean 'can't you see it? I'm allowed to eat, ok?')
    - Comer
    - [estoy] Comiendo

    Also present tense has many more uses (historic present, future present...), so it cannot be replaced always with present participle.
     

    reikix

    Member
    Español
    As Jsvillar said, the usage of simple present is similar in both languages. But when you are doing something obvious (you're eating/working/writting, etc) in front of someone, and that person asks you about it, it would be impolite to answer "trabajo", "juego", "corro", since that person is asking for details about you (obvious) action. In non-obvious escenarios answering in that short way would be totally normal/common.
     

    enmar884

    Member
    American English
    All right, thank you both; I think I understand it now.

    As an example, for confirmation, say I was looking for an apartment. If I was literally looking through the newspaper at that moment for an apartment, then I would say "Estoy buscando un apartamento", but if I was - in general - looking for an apartment (at no specific time), then I would say "Busco un apartamento."
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    All right, thank you both; I think I understand it now.

    As an example, for confirmation, say I was looking for an apartment. If I was literally looking through the newspaper at that moment for an apartment, then I would say "Estoy buscando un apartamento", but if I was - in general - looking for an apartment (at no specific time), then I would say "Busco un apartamento."
    That sounds right to me, Enmar.
     
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