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  5. "¿Necesitas agua?"

"¿Necesitas agua?"

Translation:Do you need water?

June 15, 2018



"Need water?" considered wrong.

"You need water?" passes.

"Do you need water?" Preferred. Why?


"Need water?" leaves the target person unknown.

"You need water?" is technically right. You have the question mark and all the words there to avoid ambiguity.

"Do you need water?" Fully translates and adapts the sentece for English use. Adding "do" makes it follow more traditional and formal rules for questions. I tend to read "¿" as "do."


In simple questions requiring yes/no as an answer English uses "do" as a helping verb but Spanish does not need it. Spanish follows the same sentence structure for yes/no questions as we use in a declarative statement:

  • A statement: Necesitas agua, "You need water" (here's a glass of water for you).
  • A question: ¿Necesitas agua? "Do you need water?" / "You need water?" (If you do I will go and get some for you.)

When the question is spoken the use of a rising intonation in the voice indicates it is a question, just as we can do in English. And in English the usual signal that a question is starting is the presence of helping verbs at the very beginning (words like do). Spanish uses the inverted question mark to signal the start of a question, but not helping verbs.

This article on Asking Questions in Spanish¹ is useful. It discusses simple yes/no questions near the end.

¹ https://www.thoughtco.com/asking-questions-spanish-3079427


i take it as conversational spanish- "need water" direct translation works with familiar people in english just as well.


Because the person is unknown for that they said, "¿Necesitas agua?"


"Need water?" should be accepted


I can understand where you are coming from Provocadeur, but I wonder if DL will accept it. I quite agree that "Need water?" is how you could ask someone in English, but I don't think it is quite equivalent to what the Spanish question is asking.

Using some other common Spanish phrases may explain what I mean.

¿Cómo estás? » "How are you?"
Estoy bien. » "I am well."
Both Spanish sentences are complete without specifically including the subject pronouns /you and yo/I. But in English, "How are?" and "Am well" aren't complete.

The way in which Spanish conjugates verbs means that necesitas specifically means "You need" even though is omitted (and I understand that it normally is). The pronoun is effectively redundant.

¿Necesito agua? » "Do I need water?"
¿Necesitas agua? » "Do you need water?"
¿Necesita agua? » "Does she need water?"
¿Necesitamos agua? » "Do we need water?"
¿Necesitan agua? » "Do they need water?"

ALL of the above loosely translate to "Need water?" But each of the Spanish questions are specifically directed to a different person(s) - the subject is identied (I, you, he/she/you/it, we, they respectively) by the verb conjugation alone. English does not do it this way but instead requires subject pronouns.

In English "Need water?" is a sentence fragment and does not specifically identify who is being asked, but depends on context alone for that. The Spanish ¿Necesitas agua? is a complete sentence and does specify who is being asked.


Why not necesitos ? I always get confused.


Necesitar is a verb and must be conjugated to match its subject for person (first, second or third) and for number (singular or plural). Gender only applies to most nouns and adjectives, NEVER to verbs or adverbs.

Indicative present tense conjugations for Necesitar

(A verb with -ar suffix) -

Person Español   English
1st Yo necesito "I need"
2nd Tú necesitas "You need"
/ 2nd
Él/ella, Usted necesita "He/she needs, you need" ¹
1st Nosotros/as necesitamos "We need water"
/ 2nd
Ellos/as, Ustedes necesitan "They, you need water"
2nd Vosotros/as necesitáis "You need" (Spain)

¹ Note: The Spanish 3rd person singular, if no other subject is given, can also translate to "it" in English.

Because of the different verb conjugations required to match the subject pronouns it is very common to omit the subject pronouns entirely. The very conjugation itself carries that meaning and the pronoun is often redundant.


What of the conjugations for él?


Secondly, does necessitar change at any point to necessito (apart from using it with 'yo'), in response to gender of words?


Verbs are NOT EVER conjugated for gender, so in the simple present tense

  • an -o suffix means yo (whether or not I am male or female) and
  • an -a suffix means él / ella / usted or "it" (for which Spanish does not have a specific pronoun).

So Él necesita agua / Ella necesita agua »
"He / she needs water".
The verb remains the same despite the different genders.

English verbs are the same - "She walks / he walks" - just with much fewer conjugations.


Just to point out that there is no double s in "necesitar", "necesito" etc.
In fact, according to this article (from 2011):

La única doble s que habría que utilizar hoy es la de «grosso modo»...que se escribe así justamente porque no es locución española sino latina.

The only consonants that normally appear doubled in Spanish are (c, r, l, n) CaRoLiNa.


Just another thought on the question by ihuoma395256, perhaps there is confusion between verb forms and adjectives?

For example the masculine adjective necesario does change to necesaria when describing a feminine noun, as does most Spanish adjectives. So, la comida es necesaria, "food is necessary". But verbs NEVER change with gender.

As an aside, necesario is also the (masc.) noun and adverb form. When used as an adverb it also does not have gender.


The answer says 'Do yo' but there is no 'Tú' in the question?


Ahh, but Is indeed in the question. See my comments above. The only possible subject of the verb necesitar when it is conjugated as necesitas Is . So does not need to be explicitly stated.

Similarly, caminas must be "you walk": can be omitted, and I believe usually is, because for that conjugation it is the only possible subject pronoun. The same logic applies to the Yo (first person singular) conjugation - there is only one possible subject. So, necesito and camino have yo implied: "I need", "I walk / I am walking".

The third person singular conjugation of a verb (eg, necesita) is the same for all the pronouns Ella, Él and Usted (and "it"), so the appropriate Spanish pronoun may then be added for clarity, unless the context otherwise makes it obvious.


Why isn't it "tú necesitas"?


WilliamErn176638, yes, could be included in the Spanish question but it is not necessary. The subject pronoun is effectively redundant because the Spanish verb conjugation specifically implies . See my earlier explanation above

My understanding is that unless the subject pronoun is required for clarity¹, then it is only normally included if required for emphasis: "Do YOU need water?" (Wow? You just drank a gallon!)

¹Note: Clarity may be needed for third person singular and plural because the same form applies to more than one subject pronoun:

  • Él necesita / ella necesita / usted necesita
  • Ellas necesitan / ellos necesitan / ustedes necesitan


I put "do you need water?" and it still said i was wrong?!

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