1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Spanish
  4. >
  5. "Señor, ¿escribe usted un lib…

"Señor, ¿escribe usted un libro?"

Translation:Sir, are you writing a book?

May 24, 2018



The translation uses the wrong verb tense. The translation makes little sense to me, if it was "are you writing a book" then I believe the Spanish sentence should be along the lines of "está escribiendo un libro"


Verb tenses cannot be translated 1:1. I agree that Sir, do you write a book? would be better to learn, but you have to understand that sometimes Presente de Indicativo = Present continuous. In this example, the man started writing a book and haven't finished it, so in English we would say are you writing a book. However, as he is not currently writing this book while we speak, in Spanish we say escribe usted un libro.


OK, but there is this connotation: Boss is trying to write a letter- it takes too long, so secretary says: " Sir, are you writing a BOOK !"


I may agree with tense but why in 2nd person in question you drop "s"?


Usted takes the third person verb form since it comes from a time when you could not address royalty or nobility directly and it is the formal form in Spain.


Thanks for that explanation. It confirmed what I suspected, that the third person was taken for some class-based reason.


Spanish has three (or four in some regions) kinds of second person - informal singular, formal singular, and plural (which in Spain is split into formal and informal).

"Tú" is informal singular and in present tense takes the "'-s" ending you're used to. "Usted" is formal singular and takes the same conjugations as "él" and "ella."


I believe if you use usted, you drop the 's' and use the 3rd person form


Do you know how to speak in English "Sir do you write a book?" is COMPLETELY INCORRECT


Not really, though it os more common to say "Sir, are you writing a book?"


Oh. "Are you writing a book?" seems liks he is currently writing this book soo howeverr ?


He is writing a book in general but that's not what he is doing this very second. You only use the present progressive form (está escribiendo) if the subject is actively doing the action. :)

It's explained a little more on the bottom of this page: https://studyspanish.com/grammar/lessons/presprog


"I've been busy." "With what?" "I'm writing a book." - context matters. Here it is perfectly acceptable and not something happening at the moment of speech.


Yes, for English it is but in Spanish it would not be continuous tense. So this English continuous tense needs to be translated directly from Spanish present tense, which seems to be what some are getting hooked up on.


But this is a question, not a statement?


The he/she/you (formal) form of a verb (escribe) in Spanish can be translated as the present form (you write or you do write) OR it can be translated as the present progressive form (you are writing). In this case, the latter (you are writing) makes more sense in the context of the sentence so it should be used. But I do think the literal translation should be accepted as a possible answer. *This is how my Spanish teachers have taught it. I'm proficient in Spanish, but not fluent.


Any form of the present tense can also be present progressive, not just 2nd and 3rd person singular.


I think this is one of those situations when it is difficult to keep tenses the same whilst trying to convey the same message. "Sir, do you write a book?" is not something that is commonly said in English with "Sir, are you writing a book?" being the preferred way. But, we are here to learn about Spanish.


It definitely is not the wrong tense.

In English we are very used to compound tenses and even though many other languages support them, they are not used in the same way as English.

Another language altogether would say this as:

Ĉu vi skribas un libron?

Using the present tense. It also happens to support:

Ĉu vi estas skribanta un libron?

However it's definitely not required and is out of the norm enough to at least sound wierd to those who hear it.


Ok, espanolos, if i used 'escribiendo', which makes more sense to me, would you understand what meant?


"Señor ¿ está escribiendo un libro?" should also be correct when translating from English, though it would be less likely used as it would mean that you are in the middle of writing a book and yet I am asking you anyway. So when you ask if we would understand what you meant, it depends on what you meant. We use the English present continuous way more often and in more situations than the Spanish present progressive is used. More often the English present continuous is translated to the Spanish simple present which is much more used than the English simple present.


Yeah, I thought the same thing.


Definitely wrong tense. And if it's not possible to translate it correctly because it would sound akward, just remove the whole sentence from the app. What's the problem?


Never learning things that "sound awkward" or don´t translate well literally would leave us unequipped to deal with Spanish as it is actually spoken and written.


¨Sir what do you do every day now that you are retired? Do you write a book?¨ ¨Yes, I write a book during the week and write songs on the weekend¨


¨Yes. I am writing a book during the week (but NOT here at the bus stop while talking to you) and I am writing songs on the weekend.¨

Both are correct English tense translations from Spanish present tense. Why? Because the English continuous tense used here (in the process but not actually happening at time of declaration) is NOT correct for the Spanish continuous tense and instead is covered by Spanish present tense.

I the same way that ¨I run to your house tomorrow¨is not correct in English but is a perfectly acceptable way to indicate future action in Spanish. ´Corro a tu casa mañana.´

Remember that Spanish is NOT English with different words.


We need to remember that we are learning Spanish here, not English. In many languages the constrution of sentense does not directly indicate if the speaker has finished or is in the process of doing something. Just remember that in many languages present simple is equal to present progressive.


It's not the wrong tense. You're trying to translate from English 1:1.


Why must it be "Sir" instead of "Mister"? How would you say "Mister"?


"Señor" also means "Mister." That said, using "Mister" without a last name is very informal in English, to the point where it strikes me as slightly rude.


For me, "mister" is what I'd call "low English". Not incorrect, but used infrequently. In old movies, you see children addressing strangers that way, asking questions. Also waitresses in diners and bartenders in working-class restaurants and bars. It's not rude in those settings, and "sir" would be regarded as stuffy, toffish, too refined, and out of place.


In everday American English, 'sir' is NEVER used unless being addressed to someone much older. 'Mister' is the usual way to address a stranger.


“Never” is a bit much. Perhaps it depends on the area of the US that you live in, but I hear both “sir” and “mister”, though “mister” is usually used with a last name. Try reporting “mister” as also correct. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mister


I hear that "sir" is used quite commonly in the South.


I regularly use "sir" simply when being polite. Older, similar age, younger, doesn't matter. (American)


I'm an everyday American and have never called anyone mister, unless it's in conjunction with their last name, e.g., Mr. Smith or Mr. Jones. If the man is a stranger, I say sir: Excuse me, sir, is this seat taken?


I use "sir" when I am in some sort of customer service role and am speaking to a male person whose name I don't know. That is quite common. I think it would be rather rude for, say, a person staffing the polls during an election to say to a voter, "Mister, you´re in the wrong line."


Why wouldn't this be "Usted escribe un libro?" ?


I'm just really wondering where do you place usted in a question????!!!!


Many places can be used.

¿Escribe usted un libro?

¿Escribe un libro?

¿Usted escribe un libro?

¿Un libro escribe usted?

Omitting it, or having it come after the verb in a question are pretty common. The others are emphasizing different things.


My Spanish teacher advised reversing normal word order (i.e. "escribe usted") in questions, but Stephanie is right that there are several options. Spanish word order is more flexible than English word order.


Mister, sir, Mr. all should be accepted


No, the abbreviation "Mr." is only used with a last name.


And ¨Mister¨without a name is very informal.


Is " Sir, did you write a book " incorrect?


Yes. "Escribe" is present tense. It can be translated as English present tense or present progressive, but not normally as past tense.


Why mister is incorrect ?


"Mister" or, more usually, "Mr." would be correct if it appeared immediately before the last name. Using it in isolation is not standard English (and, to my mind, is so informal as to be a bit rude). The appropriate honorific to be used without a last name is "sir."


Can someone please explain why 'usted' is after 'escribe' and not before?


It seems it is time to look for a teacher, that understands Spanish. Twice now it has marked my answer is wrong when indeed they are correct. I am spanish and my mother, a native speaker, says there is nothing wrong with my answers. Duo needs to go learn Spanish. Very disheartened with duo.


Her pronunciation is almost impossible to understand


usted does not sound that way at all. sounds like ustel


what would be the translation for "sir, did you write a book" then?


Señor, ¿escribió usted un libro?


it didn't accept "sir do you write a book"


Present tense in Spanish can be either present or present progressive in English. (And also some other tenses, but let´s keep this simple.)

In English, we would be very unlikely to say "do you write a book?" We might say "Do you write books?," but would not phrase the question that way when asking about one book. We would be likely to use the present progressive and say "Are you writing a book?," however.


The grammar for using the auxiliary verb "to do" in English, and the choice between present simple and present continuous in English, is quite difficult. As a general guideline (not a rule), present continuous is used for current activities, while simple present is used for habitual activities: "He is writing a book now" "He writes books to earn money." You don't use "to do" when asking questions using continuous present: "Is he writing a book?" but you use "to do" when asking questions using simple present: "Does he write books?" There are many exceptions to the way these verb-forms are used.


The translation into English is not proper. "You write a book?" is not good English except as a declarative statement.


“Sir, do you write a book?” and “Sir, are you writing a book?” are better questions which are both accepted for this translation.

“You write a book?” is a repetition of what someone just said that is asked in a tone of disbelief. It is less used and it is not a general question. A person could respond with “No, I was just kidding.” or “Yes, I do.” or if asked as “You are writing a book?” -“Yes, I am writing a book.” stressing the “am” or even stopping after the “am”. The question is not “Do you write a book?” but rather “I don’t believe you, is it true?” It would seem a bit strange to be polite by using “sir” and then question the person’s honesty. The stress can be on the word “book” or it can be on the word “you” or really on whatever part you don’t believe. I wonder if this would be worded in subjunctive in Spanish since it implies that you don’t believe the person?


yeah i agree with bobbybluehorse


Señor, ¿escribe usted un libro?

Entonces, ¿por qué tan entrometido?

Then, ¿why so nosy?


Can I write it without the word 'usted'?


It should also be correct, but unlike “escribo” which is only used for “yo”, the verb form “escribe” is used for “él”, “ella” and “usted”. Without the pronoun though, I would go to the fact that you are saying “señor” as if you are talking to that person, so I would assume “usted” in this case.


Why is the usted neccesscary?


It is not required. It is sometimes helpful to show question order and to show that the subject is not “él”.


It's problematic for me that there seems to be no definite definitive answer from Duo or another language authority on this, just personal opinions.


Don't remind me pls


Sir, did you write a book? (Wrong) How do when write vs. writing? I thought Eres = are?


"Escribe" is in present tense, not the past tense. One of the points of this sentence is that Spanish often uses the present tense where English speakers would use present progressive.

"Eres" is indeed one form of "are." It is a conjugation of the verb "ser." Present progressive, however, uses the verb "estar" and the present tense formal second person conjugation of that verb is "estás." "Are you writing," if translated literally, would be "estás escribiendo." As already noted, however, this sentence should not be translated literally.


No, "estàs" is familiar second person used with "tú", the formal form used with "usted" is "está". So, that would be "está escribiendo".


I am confused about tense. How do you know when something is past tense and when it is present?


Only the form for “nosotros” is the same for past and present. All the others are different. “Escribe” can only be present tense for usted, él or ella, or it can be the imperative form for tú.



I wrote "Do you write a book" Give me my health back!


You skipped the first word “Señor,”which translates to “Sir,” and you should also have a question mark at the end of your question, but we would say “Do you write books?” for the general question which this is not, so “Sir, are you writing a book?” is the best answer.


Does "Sir, are you an author" also work? Why not?


No, “un libro” = “a book”

“an author” = “un autor”

When asked to translate, that does not mean extrapolate.

If I fixed my own sink, that does not necessarily mean that I am a plumber. A kindergartner can write a small book, but that does not mean that the child is necessarily an author, especially, since the book is not finished yet.


And not all authors write books as opposed to short stories, blog posts, magazine articles, etc.


How would you say "sir, did you write a book?" Just trying to learn present tense vs past tense.


"Señor, escribió usted un libro?"


How would you say "Sir, have you written a book?"


Mr instead of Sir was not accepted 6/2/20


There is very good reason for that, as discussed in a previous comment. Please do a search for "Mr."


I used Mr instead of Sir. Why it was as marked as wrong?


This has been discussed before. Please look at previous comments.


Thats what i wrote!


In English or Spanish, double check the instructions and accents.


Duolingo does not mark off for accents, but people generally find it rather hard to catch their own typos, etc.


That is not always true, sometimes omitting an accent changes to a different word such as el = the, but él = he and tú = you, but tu = your.


In my experience, Duolingo does not mark a sentence incorrect for that reason.


Well, it happens for sure in the Klingon course, but I have seen it happen in Spanish for certain words.


When i read it, its like Writing you a book?. That dont sound right. Any tips someone can help me with


"Escribe usted..." can mean "Are you writing..." or "Do you write..."


Why mister is wrong... mister are you writing a book?


This has been discussed at some length already. Please read previous comments.


Why does usted come after the verb? Could somebody explain the rule of placing "usted" in a question? Thank you!!


Word order in Spanish questions has been discussed more than once already. Please read the previous comments.


Why does usted come after the verb in a question? Thanks!


Why not sir did you write a book? I just can't seem to figure out did/are/do. Thanks in advance for your help!


The form "did" is for questions in past tense. We ask "Do you write books?" which would be something that you do regularly or "Are you writing a book?"


I used Mister instead of sir and was marked wrong.


Please read previous comments if you want to understand why.


Why Mr was wrong, but Sir is correct ? Senor means Sir and or Mr.


Mr. is an abbreviation of Mister and that abbreviation is only used with a last name. "Mr. and Mrs. Smith are cordially invited to ..."


The only confusion is why mr is wrong and sir is right. The both translation to senor.


Yes, Mr. translates to Señor and sir translates to Señor, but they are not used in the same situations in English. The abbreviation "Mr." is only used with a last name.


Sir do you write a book is not proper English.


why can't I use "Mr."????


See previous discussion on this topic.


Yes, Mr. translates to Señor and sir translates to Señor, but they are not used in the same situations in English. The abbreviation "Mr." is only used with a last name.


Why it doesn't need to be: "Señor, escribes usted un libro?" Why "escribe" and no "escribes"? It is a second person - you (tu), not third person - he (el).


Yes, but it is the formal form in Spain that was developed at a time when it was rude to talk directly to royalty or even nobility. "Would his highness like another slice of pie?" So, "usted" does use the 3rd person singular verb form even though now it is a 2nd person form used directly with someone that you are not on a first name basis with. The verb form "escribes" is only used with "tú" which is the familiar you form used with a child, a family member, a friend and even with God the father or son, just like "thou" used to be used in English. If you used "escribes" with "usted", it would sound like "you writest". It was "thou art", but it has always been "you are" and now we only use our polite form and there are some places in Latin America where the "tú" form is not used.


Why is 'Mr' wrong here? Señor can be sir or Mr.


Words in different languages do not match up one-to-one. "Sir" and "Mr." are both translations of "Señor," but are used in different ways in English. "Mr." should be used exclusively before a last name. You will occasionally see it used on its own (usually spelled out as "mister") and this may be acceptable in some dialects, but it is so informal as to sound rude to many people.

"Sir" is the appropriate honorific to use if you are not following the honoric with a last name.


Wow, I know it's wrong but I literally thought it must be mr. Are you writing in a book, because my spanish isn't good enough and I would never think of that sentence. I'm begging fix this thing.


There is nothing to fix. The abbreviated form "Mr." is only used with a last name. "Mister" could possibly be added, but there is nothing wrong with "sir". Why do you have a problem with "Are you writing a book?" It is a perfectly good sentence, though it may be more common to ask a general question: "Do you write books?"


When using Spanish (or any language, including your own, really) you should expect to hear sentences that you, personally, would never think of. Everyone has different experiences and expectations of life and one of the great advantages of language is that we can discuss them.

For what it´s worth, in my context it´s not an odd question. I, personally, am writing a book (who knows if anything will ever come of it, but I´m writing it) and I know any number of other people who have written or are writing books. Libraries are full of books that somebody has written.

If you had occasion to say "are you writing in a book?," it would probably be something like "Señor, escribe usted en un libro?" or "Señor, está escribiendo en un libro?"

As for "Mr.," AllIntoLearning3 is correct that you only use it with a last name. People do sometimes address other people as "mister," but it´s so informal that it strikes me as rather rude. The polite form is "sir."


For students information; in addition to the literal meaning there is also an idiomatic English English (but maybe not USA english) meaning to this phrase. To ask someone, "Are you writing a book about it?" means "you are taking too long" at whatever they are doing. Happy studying to you all.


both translations (mr. and sir) are grammatically correct and should be counted as such


I wrote "mister are you writing a book? " Got dinged for mister instead of sir. This sentence doesn't look formal enough. For sir.


I would be hard pressed to come up with a sentence informal enough to allow for "mister" to be used in isolation, rather than before the person's surname. It is so informal as to be almost rude. You will not find it used this way in Duolingo´s official translations. (I have no idea whether it might sometimes be an acceptable alternative, but rather doubt it.)

In any case, "usted" signals formality and you should translate any honorifics in the sentence accordingly.


how could sir, you wrote a book wrong?


“Escribe” is present tense, but “wrote” is past tense. So it is “Sir, are you writing a book?”, because we use the English continuous form for ongoing activities. He is not doing it at the moment, so we use “escribe” as the Spanish progressive is only for action that is happening at this moment.


Is it me or is something wrong here? "Type what you hear" so I wrote Senor,¿escribes usted un libro?. It was marked incorrect, the reason being that I typed in English, not Spanish. ????. Ok I put escribes cos that's how it sounded and it should have been escribe (my mistake for not concentrating!) but I'm pretty sure what I typed wasn't English!!


You use escribe with Usted, not escribes.


Senor is English, so put Señor.


"Senor" is nonsense, not English.


"He is a senior partner in the firm." It is the opposite of being a minor. "He is a senior citizen." Okay, I forgot that there is also an i in it.


por que no decir..Senor. escribiendo usted un libro


Sir, writing you a book? No.


No. Sounds really awkward.


I changed the order to "Are you writing a book Sir?" and it called it wrong but it sounds better that way in English.


It is fine either way in English, don't forget to pause at the comma, but Duolingo doesn't necessarily know this. You could try reporting it, but if it is not wrong in English in the order that they used then they prefer you to keep the same order when you can.


Sir, to write you a book? is what I see. Could someone please explain this one?


I'm not sure where you're getting "to" from. I don't see anything that would usually be translated as "to" anywhere in the sentence.

Spanish often marks questions by placing the subject after the verb.

"Escribe" is the corrrect conjucation of "escribir" to use with "usted."

Thus, a literal, but grammatically correct translation would be "Sir, do you write a book?" We would normally phrase this type of question in the present progressive in English, however, so a better translation would be "Sir, are you writing a book?" (Spanish often uses the present where English would use present progressive.)


To add to b05aplmun.ca, "to write" would be "escribir"


I am just starting and based on what has been taught since the beginning (not the advanced stuff you guys talk about) What about: Senor, eres escribe un libro


If you are just starting, it would be wise to read the other comments and then you would already have known that was wrong. You are writing,”Sir, you is writes a book.”. However, being a beginner you might not have also realized that there are two verbs in Spanish for “to be” which have specific uses and are not interchangeable. Just your luck, the Spanish progressive requires a conjugation from “estar” and not “ser” and the present participle of “escribir”. Also, the minute you use “Señor”, you will need the conjugation for the formal singular form of you,“usted” and not the conjugation for the familiar singular form of you, “tú”. Then, only if the gentleman is currently in the process of writing at this moment would you use “Señor, ¿está escribiendo un libro?" Otherwise, ongoing but not currently happening activities in English do use the present continuous, but then Spanish would use its simple present tense. https://www.thoughtco.com/ways-spanish-english-verb-tenses-differ-3079929





Wow! Thank you. I need a separate course on tenses and rules! I'll keep trudging along and hopefully it will become more clear.


Translation is wrong. Writing is escribiendo.


The literal translation is only correct when it is actually happening at this moment, but English uses its continuous tense far more often than that and then it must be translated with the Spanish simple present tense instead of the Spanish progressive tense. When translating from English without any cues of time, both Spanish tenses should be accepted as correct. When translating from the Spanish simple present, without cues both English simple present and English continuous should be accepted, but there is a cue. We would generalize by saying “Do you write books?” and book is not plural for this sentence, so it would be “Are you writing a book?”


This sentence makes no sense


What do you mean yitzyn?


Well to be entirely honest if someone were to ask me that question the answer would be yes. But for more common usage it might come in a response to an intrusive question. "Did you go to her apartment?" "Sir are you writing a book?" to mean "Why are you asking me that?" though rude Americans like me would leave off the sir.


This is not the expression meaning why are you asking me that? This is literally asking a gentleman if he is writing a book. Duolingo is making sentences out of the available vocabulary that has been learned so far. They are including “Sir” to make sure that we use the formal form “usted” instead of the familiar form “tú” as well as teach us this new word. There is nothing wrong with this sentence.

Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.