Help with the "Questions" exercise?
So I am having problems quickly translating questions in spanish to english. Basically I am having trouble with figuring out the missing words that we would normally use in english but do not use in spanish.
For example: ¿Cómo comes pescado? = How do you eat fish? but in my head I keep translating word for word (which is the problem for me because I know I can't do that) so I think "How eat fish?"
and another example: ¿Cuántos perros comen queso? = How many dogs eat cheese? but this time I tried not translating word for word and came up with "How much cheese do dogs eat?"
I was wondering if other new spanish learners have this problem and how to overcome this problem? Or can anyone recommend another website/video to help go over this problem?
Hi, Beedey. When I first started Spanish, questions were really difficult for me also. I remember sitting in my Spanish class at high school just praying that the teacher would not ask me any questions -- not because I couldn't answer them; I just couldn't understand the questions. I've found that the best way to tackle questions in Spanish is to break them into parts. Start with the question word. Here's a list of the common ones: (These are great to memorize)
¿Cuánto/a? How much?
¿Cuántos/as? How many?
¿Por qué? Why?
¿Cuál? Which? or What?
(There are a few others, but these are probably used the most)
Then find the verb in the question. This can be a little tricky because Spanish allows for a variable question structure -- verbs can go almost anywhere. After you find the verb, try to find a subject. Looking at the end of the verb will give you a hint, and oftentimes it is the only indication of a subject. For example, tú is almost never included in questions; you just have to see the -es or -as on the end of the verb. Finally, find any extraneous information. There might be an object, adverb, or adjective that slightly modifies the sentence. Then just try to put the information together in a way that makes sense.
Here are some breakdowns:<h1>1 ¿Cómo comes pescado?</h1>
Question: Cómo -- How?
Verb: comes -- (you) eat
Subject: (notice the -es on the end of the verb) -- you
Extra: (In this case, the object): pescado -- fish
Literal Translation: How you eat fish?
Note: Spanish does not need the "do" in their questions like we do; It is just a part of the English language.
Better Translation: How do you eat fish?
<h1>2 ¿Cuántos perros comen queso?</h1>
Question: Cuantos -- how many?
Verb: comen -- (they) eat
Subject: (notice the -en on the end of "comen," so we are looking for a plural subject. Notice that perros is plural) perros -- dogs
Extra (Again, the object): queso -- cheese
Translation: How many dogs eat cheese?
<h1>3 ¿Cuándo hablamos?</h1>
Question: Cuando -- when?
Verb: comemos -- (we) talk
Subject: (Notice the -amos on the end of the verb) -- we
Literal Translation: When we talk?
Better Translation: When do we talk?
I hope this helps. It looks really daunting at first, but if you practice, it eventually becomes second nature.
Thank you SO much for your reply & taking the time to help me! I will defiantly write down those common question words and memorize them. Also going over your examples will help. I guess it will just be a slow process at first and like you said eventually become second nature. Thanks again :)
I had similar problems and I would sit for a minute and conjure up as many possible translations as I could. Then I would settle on the one that made most sense to me. I've been getting a majority of the questions right in that aspect now ever since. I also have trouble remembering which question word means what so I had a little more o a problem to conquer and I did so I'm sure you can too! :)
aha I'm glad I'm not the only one who has this problem, I'll just keep going over them & practicing and eventually conquer them. Thanks!
I think Spanish questions are close to ordinary sentences - positive or negative ones.
In Spanish, you can say "[Tú] comes pescado" (You eat/are eating fish) and the question is "¿Cómo comes pescado?" (How do you eat fish?). Subject pronouns are hardly ever used in questions. I believe that the majority of times are to emphasize and they go at the end of the questions. And "Los perros comen queso" (the dogs eat/are eating cheese) and your question was "¿Cuántos perros comen queso?" (How many dogs eat/are eating cheese?).
I study English in Spain and I think the best way to make question sentences is to divide them into two groups:
1) Without question word: they are similar to ordinary sentences. You can follow the same structure, although many Spanish-speaking people might change the position of the subject, which is such a common usage in Spanish. For instance, "They go to the cinema" may be translated as "Ellos van al cine" and asking "¿Ellos van al cine?" (Do they go to the cinema?) does not sound weird despite of the fact that there are other options: ¿Van ellos al cine?, ¿Van al cine? or even in some context ¿Van al cine ellos?
2) With question word: you ought ot learn the questions words. For example, "How many cars" matches "Cuántos coches", "Who" matches "¿Quién" (singular) or "¿Quiénes" (plural) and "How" usually matches "¿Cómo". I believe that an usual pattern is: Question word + the rest of the ordinary sentence without the subject + [subject if it is needed]? For instance, "How are David going to Madrid?" can be translated as "¿Cómo va a Madrid David? and the positive sentence would be: David va a Madrid (David are going to Madrid). If you were talking about David, it is really common to leave the name out. And you can also ask: "¿Cómo va David a Madrid?, but you must not ask ¿Cómo David va a Madrid?.
It is worth note that if a preposition goes at then end of the question in English, it usually goes at the beginning in Spanish. "Who are you waiting for?" would be "¿A quién/quiénes esperas? That is like a relative clauses as somebody says "in which" or "for whom" instead of "which ... in" and "who ... for".
When you read a question in Spanish, just try to understand it in Spanish and then write it with your own words in English.
Thanks for taking the time to help! I appreciate it lots. I never thought of breaking it down to two groups but I'll give that a try, looking at it as an ordinary sentence then figuring out the question word. Thanks for the help! :)
comes pescado=You eat fish, no: you are eating fish=estas comiendo pescado
The Spanish "presente de indicativo" (present) has some of the usages of the English present continuous. For instance, if a man is watching TV/television, he can say either "Veo la tele/televisión" or "Estoy viendo la tele/televisión".
If you do not believe it, read the fourth entry for "presente" in the dictionary of the "Spanish Royal Academy": http://lema.rae.es/drae/?val=presente. I know that is not a complete explanation, but it will give you an idea.
I have just read you live in Chile. Do not you consider right the following brief dialogue? A: ¿Qué haces? (What are you doing?) B: Veo la tele. (I am watching TV).
In Spain, it is perfectly possible, although you can also say: A: ¿Qué estás haciendo? B: Estoy viendo la tele.
The dictionary I linked to is made by the ASALE (Association of Spanish Language Academies), it is not only for Spain: http://www.asale.org/academias/academia-chilena-de-la-lengua.
I think it may help to use external resources when these questions come up.
'Como comes pescado', by the verb indicates 'you'. You should, in literal translation, assume ' How you eat fish' and then you can assume the 'How do you eat fish'.
So if you are not assuming the 'you' in 'comes' external sources can help with the conjugation.
To clarify, I use http://www.spanishdict.com/translation whenever I have issues with conjugation, or need to know the definition.
Thanks! Yeah I use spanishdict sometimes too, mostly for word translations. I didn't know I could use it for conjugations as well! I'll try that too. Thanks!
I keep doing that too! But I learned just to read it then fill in the blanks. I also hover over the Spanish words to see what they mean.