Yes, first, it's implied that they are laying down.
Second, they are doing it now, "zij praten" also means, "they talk" as in they do, but maybe not right now.
You could also say "zij zijn aan het praten." Which is right now, without the lying down implication.
I agree, except for the incorrect 'they are laying down'. Lay (leggen) is transitive (one has to lay something); lie (liggen) is intransitive.
I'm not exactly sure what the "liggen" is doing here then, since the only interpretation i can imagine for it is that they are lying down.
Perhaps you could illuminate.
my dutch girlfriend is really sure that this would be only be said if you want to emphasize that you are laying down and talk. "Zij zitten te praten" or "Zij zijn aan het praten" is what you would use.
You would use "zij liggen te..." if you're actually lying down. That doesn't necessarily mean that the lying down part is emphasized though...
@murcuslangford. Joelson is right. - You just didn't understand his point, that laying and lying are different things.
So we get back to what i said in the first place... Odd, almost like Joelson is Wrong.
"Lay" can also be intransitive when used in the past tense, as in "I felt tired so I lay down for a nap."
Lie-lay-lain is intransitive. Lay-laid-laid is transitive. Confusing, but that's just the way it is.
What would the question be if this sentence was the answer to that question?
Q: "Wat doen zij?" or "Wat zijn zij aan het doen?" A: "Zij liggen te praten."
both are correct. 'wat doen zij' is just a shorter version, but both are used.
What is the nuance here with liggen? Does it imply that they are being idle?
It implies that they literally lie down. Similarly, "zij staan te praten" would imply that they're standing and "zij zitten te praten" would imply that they're sitting down.
You can say that in English too: 'they sit talking', 'they stand talking', &c. That's perfectly fine English, though people might not immediately recognise the parallels in Dutch.
They sit talking -> Zij zitten te praten is logical enough. The one that gets me is that 'walking' also counts in Dutch--but also, apparently, using 'lopen' to construct the progressive present doesn't always mean you're walking.
True, which comes naturally for native speakers, but makes little sense. Even in Dutch is sounds a bit ugly though it is grammatically right. You would find it in spoken text, but less in books.
The use of "lopen" is similar to that of the Portuguese language: "andar" means "to walk" and this verb is used in daily conversation to construct the progressive present: "ele anda falando" meaning "he is talking" but not necessarily right now, actually for a continued period of time, like days or weeks. In Portuguese, you will never think that someone is "walking and talking" when that phrase is heard. Sorry for mixing another language in this thread, but I would like to show that the Dutch language is not alone in employing that verbal construction!
Same in Italian: "lui va dicendo...". And with the same meaning of doing it for some time.
It's a bit abrupt and unfinished, though. One would more likely fill out out: "They sit there sitting and talking." "They stand around talking."
I see a lot of people confusing the verbs "lay" vs "lie" in English.
(This is limited to when "lay" means to place something and "lie" means to rest or recline horizontally.)
That seems to be causing some confusion in some of these responses.
It's nothing to be embarrassed about, as even Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan got this wrong in their iconic songs.
One important difference: "lay" requires an object. "Lie" doesn't.
It's the past tense of "lie" that causes most of the confusion, I think. This is one of those many times when English is awful.
This conjugation chart should help:
Present Tense - Past Tense - Past Participle
lie(s) - lay - lain
lay(s) - laid - laid
Here's a link to study with a prettier chart and more memory aids:
As most of us are here to learn Dutch, not English:
Onthoud: liggen is stilstand, leggen is beweging.
(Remember: "liggen" is resting, "leggen" is motion.)
All the comments here seem to be fine with the idea they are lying down and yet it's not the translation, which is just given as "They are talking". So why "liggen", what have I missed here?
The correct translation of "they are talking" is "ze/zij praten". Another possibility is "ze/zij zijn aan het praten". As a Dutch native speaker I really fail to see how it can ever be translated as "ze liggen te praten". So i don't think you have missed anything. De "liggen" has no use here.
If I wanted to an an object in here, would I use an om te construction? Say someone was sitting and talking about what's on TV, would I say Hij zit om televisie te praten?
Almost, that would be 'hij zit over de televisie te praten'. This sentence in particular is not so common, but similar to 'hij zit / staat / loopt over het weer te praten' (He is talking about the weather).
To make it more confusing, one could say: 'Hij zit om televisie te kijken' (He sits in order to watch television)
Even more far fetched is 'Hij zit om over televisie te praten' (He sits in order to talk about television, not meaning the machine, but the programming)
Not to be confused with "Hij zit om over de televisie te praten' which could mean both 'He sits in order to talk about the television' or something meaning that he sits in order to be able to speak to someone else without the television being an obstruction.
I start rambling, sorry.
According to this web site--and it could well be incorrect--the sentence is in the continuous present and means "They lie (are lying down) and talk": http://www.dutchgrammar.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=446
You are absolutely right. In a normal situation when people are talking, sitting or standing, you say "They are talking." But if people are talking in an extraordinary situation, laying down, or hanging with their feet on a rope, than you need to mention the situation.
It was pretty difficult to understand "liggen" on audio, can it be corrected ?
I don't understand the 'te' in this sentence. To me this looks like 'They are to speak' rather than 'They are speaking.' Can anyone explain?
Fair enough, I guess it's just one of those strange quirks of the language! Thanks for your help.