https://www.duolingo.com/Carradee

Anyone else bothered by the misuse of "gerund"?

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Gerunds: Knitting is fun; I enjoy knitting.

NOT Gerunds: I am knitting a scarf on a knitting loom.

The vast majority of sentences in the "gerund" lessons are of the second type. Those are participles, not gerunds.

If you're only going to use one term to describe the –ing form of verbs, it should be "participle"—all forms can be considered a participle, but gerunds are only nouns.

Anyone else bothered by that?

1 year ago

22 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/2108Alex2108
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Gerundio:

I am DOING it.

Yo lo estoy HACIENDO.

Participio:

It is DONE by me.

Está HECHO por mí.

In Spanish the "Gerundio" is the English "Present Continous"

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Carradee
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That wasn't what I was talking about.

The lesson title is in English. It calls the lesson "gerunds", which are specifically conjugated verbs that are used as nouns. This is the definition.

http://www.butte.edu/departments/cas/tipsheets/grammar/phrases.html

Infinitive verb: to take | Present participle: taking | Past participle: taken

• When you use a participial-form verb as a noun, the function of that word = gerund.

• When you use a participial-form verb as part of a progressive tense verb, the function of that word = participle (and that auxiliary verb + participle = 1 verb, in continuous/progressive tense).

• When you use a participial-form verb as a modifier (not noun or verb), the function of that word = participle.

So if you just want to refer to the progressive-form verbs, you should call it a "participle" and not a "gerund".

The Spanish "gerundio" refers to –ndo endings. The grammatical usage is NOT synonymous with "gerund" in English ("participle" is closer, but still wrong—English has no direct equivalent to "gerundio"), and according to R.A.E., it has nothing to do with present vs. past tense. (http://dle.rae.es/?id=J9jq94P|J9k4n78)

The participio is its own thing, sometimes what English calls a "participle" but not entirely. (http://dle.rae.es/?id=S0EdlKH)

I need to find my R.A.E. grammar handbook and reread it. It's been a while.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jcragun

A lot to unpack here. You aren't entirely wrong, but you aren't entirely right. A lot of this is due to confusion between the present progressive tense in English, and estar + un gerundio in español.

'Lo estoy estudiando' is translated as 'I am studying', but in most cases what we would use the present progressive for is expressed in Spanish using the present tense. If you simply wanted to express that you were enrolled in classes or going to a certain school, you would say 'estudio', not 'estoy estudiando'. The latter has more of a meaning of 'the thing that I am doing RIGHT NOW is studying'.

This is because, in Spanish, Gerunds and Present Participles are the same thing. True, there is a distinction in English, but which language are you trying to learn?

Also, if we really get down to it, none of the names of the verb skills are very technical in Duolingo. Honestly, I think that's a good thing. While there is some overlap in verb tense usage between English and Spanish, the tenses are used very differently, and you need to get to know what they mean in Spanish, rather than seeking directly literal translations.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Carradee
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The thing is, using improper verb tense names doesn't actually promote learning of the language. It actually teaches INCORRECTLY to the folks who know what the words mean.

The progressive tenses that you brought up are a great example. By treating the progressive as interchangeable with progresivo, it's promoting improper understanding and usage.

It would be better to list something like "Adv Present-tense Verbs 3"—or use the Spanish term to begin with—and explain what progresivo or gerundio actually are. Since the goal is to learn Spanish accurately. :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jcragun

But they aren't using improper verb tense names. When you say 'estoy comiendo', you are actually using a gerund, in the English sense of that word.

A lot of this has to do with the differences in how 'to be' is used in Spanish versus English. In Spanish, we have three verbs that are used to express being: ser, estar, and in certain cases, tener. In English, we also use conjugations of 'to be' as a helper verb in the present progressive tense. This latter function doesn't exist in Spanish.

When you say 'estoy corriendo' you are literally saying 'I am in the state of running', because that is what estar means.

Keep in mind, in most places where English uses a gerund, Spanish uses an infinitive. For example, you say 'me gusta caminar' not 'me gusta caminando'.

You could write books on the deferences in expressing states of being between the two languages.

http://users.ipfw.edu/jehle/COURSES/GERUND.HTM

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Carradee
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When you say 'estoy corriendo' you are literally saying 'I am in the state of running', because that is what estar means.

That's an over-complicated translation that's inconsistent with how gerundio is explained in the Spanish grammar guides I'm looking at. It's more consistent to just add an implicit adverb (like "currently" or "at this very moment", so "estoy corriendo" = "I am running right now" ).

When you say 'estoy comiendo', you are actually using a gerund, in the English sense of that word.

No, that link you gave is a case in point of the English word being misused to refer to the Spanish gerundio. I'm looking at some in-Spanish grammar guides now, and that's only strengthening that "gerund" and "gerundio" are false cognates.

False cognates are pretty common, and sometimes they're just false in context, like limón and lima can be, thanks to some differences in what fruits are available in South America vs. the US. I've run into that multiple times, shopping at Hispanic markets, and it even showed up on my visit to Peru, 12 years back, when I ordered ceviche.

References:

http://dle.rae.es/srv/fetch?id=J9jq94P|J9k4n78

http://roble.pntic.mec.es/acid0002/index_archivos/Gramatica/gerundio.htm

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jcragun

OK. Regarding limon and lima, it has more to do with the fact that what are dozens of cultivars are reduced to what is actually ripeness (green vs yellow). What we call limes will eventually yellow, and what we call lemons were green at one point. In Mexico and many parts of Latin America, they don't commonly sell what we call 'lemon' and the product they do sell, a green thin skinned citrus, is called a 'limon' commonly. There are TONS of regional variations in both English and Spanish regarding food names.

I understand what false cognates are, and I was trying to point out that what you are doing is a case of false equivalence. What we call a participle doesn't exist in Spanish. What we call a gerund doesn't exist in Spanish, per say, either. That is correct. As I said, generally the infinitive is used to express that meaning.

I think getting overly caught up in how a word is translated when that particular grammatical construct doesn't actually exist in the other language is sort of unfair to the team here.

Like I said, I see your point, but it really is more complicated than this equals that.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Carradee
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There are TONS of regional variations in both English and Spanish regarding food names.

Yes, that's why food is a good example.

I was trying to point out that what you are doing is a case of false equivalence.

I'm saying "x ≠ y, so don't call it that." That's a matter of protesting false equivalence, not engaging in it.

Unless you're calling it false equivalence to say that "gerund = –ing verb used as a noun"—which is the literal definition, not a false equivalence. I also gave a suggestion for another English word that would be more accurate to how gerundios are actually used, even though "participle" is actually broader than "gerundio".

Like I said, I see your point, but it really is more complicated than this equals that.

That complication is precisely why I'm protesting the false equivalence of saying "gerundios" are "gerunds", because they aren't.

That's also why I outright suggested some alternatives for what they could've done instead without being unequivocally wrong. I've given 2 alternatives for what they could've done instead.

So you're "correcting" me and saying I should have done…what I actually did and said. [odd look]

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jcragun

I am not correcting you. I agree with you that they aren't precisely gerunds. Like I said, I see your point. I am not trying to argue with you, just offer some insight, as a fellow writer, English geek, and word nerd.

All I am saying is they aren't exactly participles either. And trying to explain why.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jcragun

No worries. Sorry I wasn't clearer. :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NyahMathis1

One, I have no idea what gerund means.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Carradee
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A gerund is a conjugated verb that's used as a noun.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerund

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NyahMathis1

Oh, thanks. And now that I know what it is, it is VERY irritating!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nonombre88

Thanks for the refresher. I respect your knowledge of grammar but that is a pretty technical point which is probably confusing for the beginner and intermediate learner. But i'm impressed.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Carradee
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[shrug] I'm a writer/editor who grew up having to be as precise as I could with what I said, since anything and everything would get warped back at me.

The issue is mainly confusing for folks who already know what a gerund is. If you don't know what a gerund is and just figure it out from the "gerundio", then you're fine in Spanish. Your English understanding of gerund will be flawed, but most people don't need to know about that.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidMoore622957

OK, a little while ago, I gave a long-winded point of view similar to what you expressed here, but now I'm having second thoughts. (And deleted that earlier POV.)

I'm beginning to think it does matter. Perhaps not tremendously, but enough to warrant taking this more seriously. In particular, I had found myself struggling to translate English sentences containing -ing forms. The reason is that I didn't appreciate the difference in function of the various uses of these forms. Now that I'm paying more attention to the English grammar, it's getting easier to translate correctly.

The point is that because English and Spanish do not always share word forms or terms for such forms, beginners are easily confused when translating back and forth. This is only compounded by careless use of the terminology. You can see it in the comments by learners who can't make sense of the way Spanish differs from English in these ways.

I would favor using the English "gerund" as a label for sentences that actually contain a gerund when written in English and the infinitive-used-as-noun when written in Spanish, since the latter is the closest approximation to a gerund that exists in Spanish. I completely agree it is wrong to mix in all participle forms merely because they look the same.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Carradee
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Agreed. That confusion is why I find it worth protesting, though I realize that it takes some level of linguistic knowledge to appreciate the benefit precision can bring.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/alezzzix
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What name should they have used instead? I think they call them 'gerunds' for lack of a better name, the word 'gerundio' is not an English word, so you can't use that, you can't use 'present participle' either because there is no such thing any more in Spanish.

The way I see it, if they started teaching Spanish infinitives (the Spanish equivalent of a gerund) and they called them 'gerunds', that would be far too confusing to me. If you go the 'participle' lessons, you'll find that they introduce words ending in -ado and -ido, but if they added words ending in -ndo, it would be a big misconception because those are not participles in Spanish. My point is, different languages might use certain elements in different ways, what they should do is add an explanation where they make clear that 'gerunds' have a different function in Spanish.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nonombre88

Is "estoy hablando" not a present participle? Does geundio not apply? Not an argument or correction just trying to learn more - thanks

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jcragun

In Spanish, the -ndo form is called the Gerundio. It is often referred to as a Present Participle in English, but it functions differently. In English a participle is a verb that is used as an adjective to modify a noun. The gerundio, on the other hand is used in compound verb forms or adverbially.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Carradee
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The "participle = adjective" thing describes the grammatical function in a sentence. "Participle" is also a word form, which doubtless contributes to the confusion.

When you're talking word form, the "speaking" in "I am speaking" is also a participle in the sense of word form, but not in the sense of grammar—"am speaking" is a progressive-tense verb. (In English, anyway. Estoy hablando, not so much, since that's not a tense—which someone mentioned above.)

English gerunds are participle word forms that are used as nouns. The usage is what makes the –ing word a gerund or not.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Carradee
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I pointed out in the OP that "participle" would've been more accurate, though incomplete, and gerundio only includes some but not all uses of a participle.

If you want a broad catchall for verbs not used as verbs, the term is "verbals".

They could've used the word "verbal" and split the lesson into "Verbals 1 / Verbals 2" to address both forms, with explanation in the grammar notes if they wanted. Or they could've just gone with "Participles & Gerunds", using both words, and still split it into 2 units if they wanted, or combine them into 1 unit.

1 year ago
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