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Help! Confused With Spanish Sentence Structure

I am confused about the structure of some Spanish sentences that I encounter often. I know about how adjectives go after the noun and how some verbs are used differently than in English so I thought that I could, for the most part, form sentences in Spanish. However I often notice sentences that seem to be a bit out of order and it makes me confused. I think what I am seeing a lot is the pronoun being placed after the verb. For example, I have just come across this sentence "¿Por qué van ustedes a Chile?" I think it means, "Why are they going to Chile?" If so then why not say "¿Por qué ustedes van a Chile?"

Also I often notice that present participles are not used as often as I would use them. Sometimes an infinitive will be used in place. In the sentence above the simple present tense verb is used instead of a present participle. Why is that? I think I watched a video that mentioned this that I could go find again but I thought I would add it in since I am writing a post anyways.

Thanks for your answers!

May 14, 2018



Hello, I don't know if this comment is going to clear up things for you, but in Spanish you can say "¿Por qué van ustedes a Chile?" or "¿Por qué ustedes van a Chile?" and both are correct. As adder3 it isn't really important. The rule of placing the subject before the verb when making an statement and after the verb when making a question is a good rule for you to feel more confident of making no mistakes when using the language, but you'll find lots of cases like the one in your example. Spanish is my mother tongue. So I hope I'm not butchering English in my attempt to help you.


Thank you very much for your input! Your English is really good!


Ustedes means you plural. Many years ago I was taught to use the subject after the verb when asking a question and before the verb when making a statement but in Duolingo you get both arrangements with a question ie "¿Por qué van ustedes a Chile?" and "¿Por qué ustedes van a Chile?" So perhaps it is not really important.


Thanks for that tip. I didn't come across the sentence on Duolingo but I see sentences like it all the time so I thought that perhaps I was missing something about sentence structure.


Pronouns can go after or before the verb for emphasis. Keep in mind that they are optional. "Van", "van ustedes" and "ustedes van" are almost the same. "¿Por qué van ustedes a Chile?" could be the question for people who has no obvious reasons for going or for determined people inside a bigger group, "ustedes" is a mark.

You are right about tenses and modes, they aren't used in the same way. "Van" can be used for future (Why will you go to Chile next year?) or for immediate present (Why are you going to Chile in this plane?).


nice picture GymKennaSwim.


Thanks! You too!

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