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Están ustedes comiendo?

Why are the verbs split in this sentence, but in "Están durmiendo los niños?" they cant be split?

November 9, 2015



Here is a response I received from a native Spanish speaker and Spanish teacher at SpanishDict.com.

"It seems that the compound "present or imperfect progressive" tenses can be split, but only by a personal pronoun as you indicated with "¿Están/estaban ustedes comiendo?" but it is not natural. It sounds funny. "¿Está/estaban comiendo ustedes?" sounds so much better. With the present or past perfect tenses, you can't do it at all. Either "¿Han comido ustedes?' or "¿Ustedes han comido?" is the only way you can do it. And the first way is the more common or natural."

Based on this and another response, I believe a beginner like me should simply avoid splitting verbs.


You can also say "¿están los niños durmiendo?", it is exactly the same as "¿están durmiendo los niños?".


Hmm I was told you can't split verbs, why can you in these examples?


Who told you that? Maybe they told you that in an affirmative sentence, as "Los niños están durmiendo", it is usual to write it that way instead of "Están los niños durmiendo" (even if the latter is also correct).

What exactly did they tell you?


Thank you for your post. There seems to be disagreement on the subject of splitting compound verbs. I've been searching for something definitive online but with no luck. Can you point me to a site that covers the issue?

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