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  5. "Yo estoy escuchando música."

"Yo estoy escuchando música."

Translation:I am listening to music.

June 17, 2018



Why isn't it 'Yo estoy escuchando a la música' ?


Escuchar means to listen TO, so no additional a is needed for to.
The "la" isn't needed here because it's listening to music, not the music.

You will see a "personal a" if a person is the direct object following escuchar. "Personal a's" are not translated, so the to is still built into the verb.
Siempre escucho a mi madre.
Siempre escucho = I always listen to
a mi madre. = my mother.


There are lots of examples in these exercises when "el" or "la" comes before a noun even though the translation does not include the word "the" before the noun. I have yet to figure out when the article is required and when it is not.


I think the short answer is the article is needed when you are generalizing music, it's omitted when you are specifying music, e.g., la música alivia el alma = music soothes the soul...

But, Yo estoy escuchando música en este momento = I'm listening to music right now


Unlike English, where countability is not an especial focus, Spanish focuses on countability. IN SPANISH PLURAL, the definite article (los/las) indicates the "set of all x." Thus, if x = "padres," then "Los padres hablan a los maestros" = "Parents speak with teachers."

The article is dropped in translation because English colloquially omits definite articles before collective and plural nouns. That is, these nouns have an unknown, or possibly unknowable, number. In other words, English speakers have their choice of saying "The parents talk to the teachers" or "Parents talk to teachers." In English both of these sentence structures are used colloquially and semantically to mean the same thing, even though the first theoretically is countable in English and the second is NOT countable in English. (This is why, despite the fact that countability does play a part of English syntax, I started this comment with the idea that "countability" is not focused on in English.)

In contrast, the Spanish sentence "Los padres hablan a los maestros," uses the definite article to call attention to the fact that the number of parents and teachers is uncounted. That is, that the set of parents is "parents in general," and the set of teachers is "teachers in general." Another way to look at it is that using "los/las" indicates that a Spanish pluralized noun is always uncountable whenever there is no other context available. (NOTE: I have never seen a Spanish sentence without either "un/una" or "el/la/los/las before the subject when said subject was the first word of the sentence, probably because a subject is specific.)

IN SPANISH SINGULAR, it's more complicated. The question is when to use, or not use, the singular article "el/la." It's simple with regular singular nouns, as in the "The parent talks to the teacher." With collective nouns like "gente" (people), however, which are singular in form but plural in meaning, the idea of a "set" (collection) again comes into play. Because a collective noun's meaning may be an infinite set, the semantics of the word (i.e., it is singular in form) takes precedence so that the article is used, as in "La gente viene a la fería" (People come to the fair). This is the opposite of what English collective and plural nouns do, which is to drop the article. (Thus, "La gente viene a la fería" = "People come to the fair.")

The thing to remember is that it's all about equating uncountability to an "in general" state. Sidebar: Spanish colloquial phrases, like the adverbial prepositional phrase "en casa" (at home), have no article when they are used in sentences like "Me quedo en casa ayer" (I stayed [at] home yesterday). The reason why is because "en casa" is used adverbially in order to tell "where" (at the house).


Personal "a's" are not translated because they are grammatical particles. A particle is defined as a word that has a grammatical function but does not fit into the main parts of speech (i.e., noun, verb, adverb). Particles do not change. There is more than one type of grammatical particle in English, but this comment is about prepositions used to make phrasal verbs, such as "listen to," in which "to" is considered to be a particle.

Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are lexical, i.e., they are content" parts of speech. Function words are words that exist to explain or create grammatical or structural relationships into which the content words may fit. Therefore, we refer to function words as a "closed" class, and clitics are included in that closed class, as are conjunctions, prepositions, helping verbs, and exclamations such as "oh."

In Spanish, the syntactical function of personal a's, which are also known as clitics, is to identify that the indirect object is a person. The clitic doesn't do anything else grammatically. Rather, it is a colloquial convention of Spanish grammar. (A clitic is a word or part of a word that's structurally dependent on a neighboring word and cannot stand on its own. The personal "a" is positioned, like a suffix, after the word. Unlike suffixes, however, clitics are not affixed to another word.)

Phrasals are defined as idiomatic phrases consisting of a verb and another element, typically an adverb, as in "break down,"; a preposition, for example "see to"; or a combination of both, such as "look down on." (It should be noted that "down" can also be a preposition. For example, "I went down the road.")

For more information about particles, clitics, and phrasal verbs, see:

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/particle https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/multi-word-verbs-methods-approaches https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/multi-word-verbs-learner-problems https://www.gingersoftware.com/content/grammar-rules/verbs/list-of-phrasal-verbs/


Clictics, Phrasal verbs, Syntactial function(s) are far above my pay grade...zzzzz


Thanks again, Marcy. I thought escuchando just meant listening so the "a" for ""to" would be necessary.


Until this point in the class, duo hasnt defined a difference between "I listen to music" and "I am listening to music." Both ideas have been expressed up till now as "Yo escucho a la música." (Sorry if I have an unnecessary article in there.) Has that been a simplification for us because we are beginners, but the correct distinction is now being taught?


It's not just a simplification. We use the continuous tense in English a ton. They don't use it very often in Spanish. So "Escucho música" really can be translated as either "I listen to music" or "I'm listening to music."

Here's the key thing to know: you only use the continuous tense in Spanish if the action is happening as you speak. (And even then, you can still use the simple present.)

It works well for this sentence. It's easy to imagine you are currently listening to music when someone asks what you're doing.

But an example to help illustrate the difference: In English we might say "I'm going to bed," when we mean we're first going to finish what we're doing, then get up, change into pajamas, brush teeth, etc. and then get in bed.

In Spanish, you can only say "me estoy acostando" if you've already done all that and are climbing into bed as you speak.


"Going to bed" is an extremely helpful example. Thank you.


I am still having some difficulty understanding when to use and not to use definite articles. Why is it not "la música" in this sentence?


Do I need the YO in this statement? I know that in most cases I do not need it however, I know in other cases I do need it like when you use past tense, or you want to say for instance escuchaba. You must specify whether it is I, he, or she (yo, él,o ella)... so did I really need it for this statement? I got this marked wrong for not using it


You don't need the yo here for the sentence to be grammatically correct. However, this is the comment page for a Spanish sentence so you probably had a "write what you hear" exercise, in which case you do have to write it exactly as they say it, including the yo.


Can you use "Yo estoy escuchando musica." and "Yo escucho a la musica." interchangeably, or are there certain scenarios where you use one or the other? The latter can also be used in present progressive form if I remember from the last few lessons.


They can both be used, but there is never an "a" after it (you have an "a" in your second example).


Thank you for the help.


Why is escuchar conjugated after "estoy"? Is it because this is progressive tense?


Yes. It's not actually conjugated; it's the present participle. In Spanish, present participles end in -ando or -iendo. They're also called gerundios (but are not the same as gerunds in English).


I answered with "I am listening to music" and I got it wrong. This is just confusing


Maybe you had a "write what you hear" exercise instead of a translation exercise.


I have done that more than once! Well, at least it means that I heard it and understood it.


I just found through "spanish with paul", that "música" refers to describing music, while "músico" iss used to talk about the musician. I found the distinction interesting.


Ah, eso es muy interesante


Can anyone tell me what tense this that we are learning here


It is sometimes called the continuous tense, and sometimes called the progressive tense.

Very common in English. Not so common in Spanish.

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