I want to point out that this is a construction which is used much more in Swedish than in English. Since Swedish lacks the ”reads / is reading” (i.e. present simple vs. present progressive) distinction that is used in English, there are other means of expressing progressiveness. One very common way of doing this is using sitta, stå and ligga (sit, stand, lie) + the verb, depending on which position the person is in while doing the action. This is almost like an auxiliary verb and is usually left out when you translate to English.
- I går skrev jag ett brev. (Yesterday I wrote a letter.)
- I går satt jag och skrev ett brev. (Yesterday I was writing a letter.)
- Jag låg och läste i min säng hela dagen. (I was reading in my bed all day.)
- Han stod och läste på skylten. (He was reading the sign.)
Because of this, the translation I was reading is more natural in English and also an accepted answer. There are other means of expression progressiveness in Swedish, but this is one of the most common ways of doing it.
Very helpful! I want to ask though, does one conceivably use any 'position verb' other than ligga/sitta/stå/gå before the progressive verb? Or is it that a select handful of them are 'stuck' in this construction in Swedish to make it predictable?
(I included gå because someone gave an example using it in another discussion in this lesson, though it's not in the 'tips' section.)
Is there a way to know which form the second verb has to be in?
Jag håller på och äter. 'I am (busy) eating.' "äter" is in present form.
Jag håller på att lära mig svenska. 'I am (in the process of) learning Swedish.' "att lära" is infintive.
Most of the examples in this exercise, the second verb has been in present form. Is there a rule for the infintive exceptions?
I understand the reasoning for this in Swedish but I would also point out that it is also common and correct in English to use two present participles (-ing words) together because they set the scene, so to speak. The difference is that English tends to omit the word "and" between them: "I am sitting reading in my favourite armchair" "We're sitting eating just now" "I'm standing ironing in the living room" "I hope you're not sitting eating your dinner just now".
Even though the double -ing words look as if the second -ing is acting as a gerund (-ing words too), they are actually treated as present participles.
In Swedish, the "and" must be used; in English, the "and" is superfluous.