https://www.duolingo.com/profile/potatoagent1

simple present and present progressive in Esperanto

While I was working on the course of Esperanto, at Intro level there was a some grammatical issues which confused me. The course mixes simple present with present progressive. I think it should be fixed, because it will make confusions for new learners.

And if you care please translate this to Esperanto for me.

Simple Present: I work Present Progressive: I am working.

Thanks

July 5, 2019

29 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/carbsrule

Simple present and present progressive are both covered by the -as verb form in Esperanto. For your example, mi laboras is the best answer.

You may be tempted to think that because in English we say "I am working" that you would/should say "Mi estas laboranta", but you'd be wrong. That has the specific meaning of something like "I am in a state of working", which is useful for, for example, describing simultaneous events with some precision, but in every day language it's superfluous and should be eschewed.

The key thing to remember is that Esperanto is a real language that has been in use for over 100 years, and the usage of this kind of stuff is well established.

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Karatefan

In colloquial German, you can stress that someone is working by saying: "Er ist am Arbeiten." The funny thing is, that google translates this to "Li laboras." So maybe the present progressive really is uncommon in Esperanto. :)

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

.... or its not a good idea to read too much into what comes out of Google Translate.

(Later this morning I hope to get out to shoot a video that will be called something like "the one right way to use Google Translate to learn Esperanto.")

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Karatefan

A video on this topic sounds interesting. I guess that Google Translate is based on algorithms and it suggests a translation that has the most hits. I like Google Translate for translating songs or websites in languages I don't speak. It is mostly gibberish but I get an idea of what the song or the website is about. However, I usually make sure to find a human (in real life or on the web) who can translate crucial information, if I don't know the language well enough.

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lectroidmarc

I like to use Google Translate as a way of getting hints or suggestions but you have to assume it's just messing with you half the time.

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/coljac

When I write a letter in Esperanto I run it back into English through Google translate, and double check the sentences that sound weird. I wonder if that's it?

July 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

Not what I had in mind, no.

And actually, it seems to me that Google Translate is perfectly capable of giving odd-sounding translations of perfectly good Esperanto - such as the following example which I pulled more-or-less at random from my email:

Everything in the right and here are important issues that are essential to you that you can start. Is there a teaching to the Dominican Republic tomorrow?

July 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/r.l.kirby

I only use it to check my spellings. And to to make accents. If I don't know a word, I use the Lernu dictionary. I think an Esperanto dictionary from an Esperanto site is a bit more reliable than one from Google.

July 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Google Translate is useless as a spellchecker. I just put in a text and then made random changes to the spellings of the words in the source text. Google translate happily translated every wrong word.

July 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lectroidmarc

No, no, Google Translate will only translate into properly spelled words. It will unfortunately attempt to translate any garbage you put in it.

July 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RobertoKin9

In Esperanto, it Is common to use the simple tenses a little more broadly than we would in English. For your question:

  • I work. = Mi laboras.
  • I am working. = Mi estas laboranta. OR Mi laboras.

Edit: Read below. "Estas laboranta" would be incredibly unusual in ordinary speech. It is technically grammatically correct.

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

This is a great reply except for the "mi estas laboranta" part.

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/r.l.kirby

I am working. = Mi estas laboranta.

I sparked a lively discussion here about the use of participles to express the present progressive. I was told that it was "wrong" multiple times. In the end, I decided that they meant that it is incredibly unusual. I don't think that Duolingo accepts participles as answers before they are taught - and I haven't got there yet. (So mi estas laboranta would be rejected.) What do you think of this?

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/potatoagent1

I believe at elementary level laboras and laboranta should be taught, so that it won't make confusion for English speaker learners.

just a simple level at the beginning would be quite useful.

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/r.l.kirby

I think most people don't really enjoy learning tenses/verb forms. And in Esperanto, one can get a long way without knowing how to use them, so it isn't important to most people. Anyone who wants to learn about participles is in the minority.
There are also synthetic compound tenses. But apparently, these are almost never used. See here

Personally, I'd be happy to say mi estos laboranta kiam vi alvenos but apparently people won't understand me.
If you're struggling:
kiam = when/as
alveni = to arrive

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

I don't know you or your native language, so I may be making some unwarranted assumptions here... but I would encourage you to be careful not to equate "elementary" with "like English." In fact, having one way to form the present tense is more simple (and elementary) than how we do it in English.

July 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/potatoagent1

thank you for quick reply

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Karatefan

In other languages there is also no distinction between simple and progressive verb tenses, e.g. German, Latin, and French, whereas others make that distinction (e.g. English and Turkish). So I would not bother to much and just accept it as a different concept. In the German course I usually just use the simple verb tenses because it mainly depends on the context, if something is happening at the moment or not.

But just out of curiousity (I am only at beginner's level in Esperanto): How do you stress that someone is working at the moment ("I am working"). Could you just say "Mi laboras nun."? "Mi estas laboranta." seems to be incorrect or uncommon according to salivanto.

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

"Mi estas laboranta." seems to be incorrect or uncommon according to salivanto.

I hope I was careful enough to avoid saying that. I try to avoid saying that it its "incorrect" or "uncommon."

Mi estas laboranta is a perfectly ordinary Esperanto sentence. The trouble is that when I say that, people automatically jump to the conclusion that it is a "perfectly ordinary" way to say "I am working." It isn't. To say "I am working" it's mi laboras as Lee's owl is telling us elsewhere in this thread.

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/r.l.kirby

My opinion is not that noteworthy as I, too, am quite new to Esperanto, and also because I would say mi estas laboranta, is better than mi laboras nun. But the simple verb is almost always preferable amongst most Esperantists.
I suppose that in most scenarios you can tell from the context and the nun isn't necessary.

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

Just imagine reading something like the following:

My opinion is not noteworthy because I am not a native French speaker... but I would say X even though most French speakers actually say Y.

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/r.l.kirby

but I would say X

This is not what I said. I said that I think that X is better than Y. I did not say that that is what I would do in a real-life situation. I did also not recommend, or even suggest this, as carbsrule seems to think I have, I merely stated my opinion. However, I shall remove laborantas as I, too, think that it is a bit far fetched.

Now, I would like you to imagine reading something like the following:

By the way, my opinion is not that noteworthy because I'm not very good at French. Now here is a fact about French (But the simple verb is almost always preferable...)
And despite my rather biased opinion, I can see that there is a lot of merit to this.

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

If that's what you meant, then I apologize for misunderstanding. It doesn't look like I was the only one, so thanks for going back and trying to make it more clear.

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/carbsrule

There is no verb form like laborantas; please avoid suggesting this.

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RhiannonP1

Esperanto is not the only language where the simple and progressive present are the same - Welsh, for instance, 'dw i'n gweithio' means either I work or I am working, dependent on context. I think it is very important not to approach a language with the expectation of direct translation, but to learn the grammar of the language on its own terms.

July 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

I have to ask -- are you reading the tips and notes?

I continue to get notifications about this thread and I just noticed that Potatoagen1 is at level 3 in Esperanto, which means he can't have done much of the course yet. I would encourage you to read the Tips and Notes (lightbulb) for each lesson, because these often head off these kinds of questions before they start.

If you don't have access to the Tips and Notes, try searching for Lernu kun Logano in YouTube.

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lectroidmarc

I could have sworn the whole present progressive thing was mentioned early on in the Esperanto tips, but I couldn't find it in the first few (tho I only quicky scanned them). It's is mentioned in the first German tip, however.

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

I would have expected it to be explained in more detail, but this is from the first lesson - intros:

All action words (verbs) always end in -as, when talking about what is happening now. Examples: mi laboras (I work/I am working); mi estas (I am); vi dormas (you sleep/you are sleeping).

July 5, 2019
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