Empezar/comenzar + a + infinitive = this is a set structure: empezar a beber, comenzar a reír, empezar a hablar, comenzar a comer. // Terminar/acabar work the same way but with "de" + infinitive: terminar de beber, acabar de hablar.
But it does not seem to always use an "a". It seems like I recall "puedo caminar."
I think it is related to verbs of motion, though I am not an expert on this. Certain verbs with even a small relation to motion need an "a" following the verb. Please consider this response as much a question as it is an attempt to answer the above question.
Here is a list of verbs that need to be followed by "a" at least when an infinitive follows http://www.elearnspanishlanguage.com/grammar/verb/verbswithprep-a.html
no it depends on the infinitive...some infinitives go with some prepositions. (as Babella said they are set structures) Poder doesn't need any infinitive (at least as far as I've seen on Duo) and empezar needs an a before verb. I hope it helps with the ambiguity.
I am confused as to when to use iendo/ando in spanish. I thought you use these when the verb is in gerund. Is there a rule when to use infinitive or the iendo/ando form?
Gracias por la respuesta :)
It is easier than it seems!
You use "iendo" when the verb (infinitive form) ends in "er" or "ir" and "ando" when the infinitive ends in "ar":
cenar = cenando / saltar = saltando / mirar = mirando
correr = corriendo / meter = metiendo / oler = oliendo
salir = saliendo / partir = partiendo / latir = latiendo
Hope it helps!
I just wanted to add what has already been said here. The 'a' is linking the conjugated verb and the infinitive verb which both have the same subject as in this case "usted".
The 'ing' ending '-ando' is only used as part of the continuous tense: 'I am walking', 'estoy caminando'. Even though in English you might say, 'you start walking', the second verb 'caminar' must be the infinitive in Spanish. You could also say, 'you start to walk', which is the same as in Spanish.
Duo seems to accept both, but isn't one answer formed in the wrong tense? Can someone explain? I am still learning about different tenses. Along those lines, can someone who has finished the tree list ALL of the tenses Duo expects us to learn? That would be a big help!
thefluent1: Usted is the formal use of you, and as such it is conjugated empieza. You formal, he, she, it, all share empieza. Tú (you informal) would be conjugated empiezas.
I'm wondering if it could be translated to "You can start walking". Could anyone explain why this doesn't work and how one would say that in Spanish? Thanks!
Pueder isn't used in this sentence. I'm not sure how to use it in that sentence though, sorry.
'Pueder' isn't a verb; the infinitive is 'poder', although it conjugates 'puedo, puedes, etc.)
Khalil, the "a" does not translate to "a" in English; also the lesson is for learning infinitives. I wrote, "You start to walk," and it was accepted. More advanced learners explained that we will be required to include the "a" when translating to español with SOME infinitives, but not all of them, and they provided a study link.
The verb is 'empezar' rather than 'empezarse'; the conjugation fo 'usted' is 'empieza' with 'a' at the end because it is an '-ar'verb.
It marked "You start to walk" wrong for me, and corrected to "you start walking", but I don't understand why if "caminar" is the infinitive?
Can this be used as a command, like "Start walking," or does the sentence have to be "Empieza a caminar" for it to be a command?
Hello JudeAndre: The following are the imperative forms for empezar: Imperative: tú empieza él/usted empiece nosotros empecemos vosotros empezad ellos/ustedes empiecen. So as "Empieza a caminar" would be imperative for the informal "tu", and the formal Usted imperative would be "Empiece a caminar".
I see. I didn't know there were imperative forms for verbs. Now it makes a lot more sense. Thanks!