"The boy is always playing on his violin."
Translation:De jongen zit altijd op zijn viool te spelen.
Well in Dutch we have this weird thing where we can not only explain what someone is doing, but also how they're doing it. We can, for example, not only say the boy is playing the violin, but also that he's sitting (or standing/lying etc.) while doing it.
So while you could technically use 'is' instead of 'zit' (although the sentence would change a little grammar-wise) you would completely change the meaning of the sentence, because you've just replaced 'zit'.
Thank you for taking the time to give such a clear explanation!!! :-)
No problem! To be honest, I never fully realized that we do this until I started learning Swedish, where they have the same construction.
"Ik sta te lezen." = I'm standing and reading. Perhaps in a crowded subway or waiting for the train on a crowded platform? It could also mean you're reading arrival times at the airport or something, since you don't usually grab a seat while doing that.
"Ik zit te lezen." = I'm sitting and reading. This is the most common for obvious reasons. If I call my mom and ask what she's doing and she says this, I know she's sitting on the couch. Or if you call someone who's waiting for you, apologizing for being late, and they reply oh geen probleem, ik zit te lezen it means they've sat down somewhere and are reading to pass the time, so it's no problem.
"Ik lig te lezen." = I'm lying down and reading. Personally my favorite way of reading! Before going to sleep, for example, I like to read. So if someone were to ask me what I do before bed, I would say: ik lig meestal nog even te lezen (literally: I lie usually a little while reading), which implies I do that in bed, not on the couch.
You can make these constructions with pretty much every verb, although some are a bit more logical than others. You would obviously not lie down and eat (unless you're severely depressed and fill your bed with pizza, in which case you need some help), but you could sit or stand and eat.
If you ever come across a Dutch sentence where you don't understand why the hell they're talking about sitting or standing, it's usually this construction.
P.S. We sometimes make fun of this construction by using it while we are sitting/standing/lying etc. We would say ik sta hier te staan (I'm standing here standing) which is obviously a bit of an overkill. It's meant in a humorous way :)