Lopen te verkopen.
I'm curious what exactly is the difference between the sentences "Zij verkopt" and "Zij loopt te verkopen", or between "Zij kijkt" and "Zij zit te kijken". The "te" examples are just odd sentences for me, so I'm curious what the specific meaning is. Thanks for any help!
Hi there! Let me copy this short explanation from a different discussion, perhaps that will help. If you have more questions, feel free to ask.
These are known as posture verbs, as they describe the posture the subject is in while performing some other activity. However, there is very little emphasis on the posture: in "Ik lig te lezen" the emphasis lies on the action "lezen", nobody really cares whether you are sitting or lying down while reading. That is why the posture verbs are left out in our preferred English translations, since "I am reading while lying down" is unnecessarily awkward (though that would still be accepted as an answer!).
If they don't have to be translated, then why do we give you sentences with posture verbs? Because once you will try to read or understand real Dutch, you will encounter them all the time. For a native speaker, "Ik lig te lezen" or "Ik zit te lezen" would often be more natural than "Ik ben aan het lezen".
Hi, I remember I didn't fully understand it either.
"De vrouw loopt te verkopen." Translation: The woman is selling.
Is she selling things or is it an observation from the red light district?
It means she is selling things (while walking). Perhaps she is making a real estate deal on the phone on her way to work, or maybe she is a door-to-door saleswoman selling encyclopedias. Who knows?
I actually doesn't necessarily means that she is doing it while walking... we generally use it more as an expression when someone is doing something... One could say "Hij loopt maar wat te verzinnen." which means "He is just making something up"
Hi Dutchman here... we use the conjugated form of "lopen" as well to indicate a continuous form of the verb (which would be in the infinitive). So "The woman is selling" becomes "De vrouw loopt te verkopen". If you want you could translate it with the present continuous form over "verkopen", giving the sentence: "De vrouw is verkopende", but in general no one really says that, so we use a conjugated form of "lopen" instead.
It also works with the past continious "The woman was selling" becomes "De vrouw liep (past tense of loopt) te verkopen." rather than "De vrouw was verkopende.".
Hope this helps you understand our language a bit more :)
Yes, that's really helpful, thank you! It's a sentence that sounds strange if you translate it literally, so it's nice to know what the 'implied' meaning is - how people normally understand it in the Netherlands :)
The more common continuous construction, however, would be "de vrouw is aan het verkopen". It's true that "lopen te" and "zitten te" have sometimes lost their original meaning in the continuous construction, and are simply used to replace "zijn aan het". But that is by no means the norm, it's very colloquial and informal.