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  5. "Ellos están por partir."

"Ellos están por partir."

Translation:They are about to depart.

December 22, 2012



Duolingo should have en explanation showing for this very case of using "por".


If you hover over "estan por", duolingo will tell you that its a phrase for " are about to"


I also like your point


It does also say that por can be used for about or on under the first translation


I really wish that there were lessons specifically for idioms.


I agree. There is no way to see the word "about" in this sentence, until after you've got it wrong once.


But then u remember it for ever....


This would be an issue if the aim was to get questions correct and not learn a language :)


I believe this is more a preposition issue than idiom. In English, we use several different prepositions and prepositional phrases to indicate relationships in time or space, but Spanish appears a little better once you get used to it. They just use "por." Por has other nifty uses, too. Check out this helpful article :)



Then Duolingo would benefit us all by having more extensive lessons on prepositions, particularly on helping to differentiate between para y por


Super helpful. Thank you!!


There actually is. Visit the Lingot store.


This must be something to buy when you have reached a certain level. I certainly would buy it, but it's not available.


In the lingot store, scroll all the way to the bottom, if you don't have it contact support. I know the Christmas one was available for the Christmas season and if you did not buy it then, than you must wait until the holidays again. There was also one for Valentines day. Those who bought them still have them on their tree to practice as they want. Maybe the idioms was also for just a while to see if people would be interested. Again, those who bought them still have them. I have not seen a set of lessons for para y por.


Totally unexplained construction.... very annoying and frustrating.


the downside to immersive-approach education :/


Rule: when followed by an infinitive, to express an action that remains to be completed, use por + infinitive Model: La cena está por cocinar. (Dinner has yet to be cooked.) This information is from http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/porpara.htm


Could this also mean "the dinner is about to be cooked"?


I'm pretty sure that about to be cooked would be closer to the meaning.


I wish they would stay.


Estar para + infinitive = to be about to do something. Estar por + infinitive = to be in favor of doing something.


wow, what a sentence. i was shuffling the words, but i would never ever have come up with that translation... Where is the time reference here?


It's an idiom. "estar por" means "on the verge of". I see from my earlier comment that DL didn't like "on the verge of" - I wonder whether it does now.

  • 2152

Yes it does, and "just about to" should work here, but it doesn't. The computer doesn't like the "just".


my understanding of por is something is in process which should rule out using just with another specific marker for it. This use appears to be in reference to approximate time. I forgot how complex por and estar are before hitting this sentence.


You wouldn't be expected to, because it is an idiomatic phrase - you can't decipher it without either being told the meaning, or seeing it in context, neither of which duolingo provides.


Many users seem very upset about the use of "por" in this sentence. After years of studying Spanish on and off, I have concluded that use of prepositions is somewhat arbitrary. You either have to have enough experience with the language to have a feel for the meaning of the word in context, or you have to have memorized an almost endless list meanings for prepositions in different contexts.

Immersion seems to be the most logical and efficient way of learning to use prepositions effectively along with input from more experienced and/or native speakers in these discussion sections.

The conclusion from Spanish speakers below seems to be that "estar por" means "to be about to" or "to be thinking about doing or considering", although there are variations in different dialects (Que difícil es hablar el español!).


About to depart is "a punto de salir" Your sentence is translated "They are to leave"


No. "estar por" and "estar para" can mean the exact same thing as "a punto de". And in the question of salir/partir, they can both mean depart but it would, in many places, be more common to use partir.



is this link still valid? I could not load it. The link is gone.


I thought "depart" and "leave" are synonyms? Also one definition of "por" seems to be "about" but "a punto de salir" is an overwhelming 404 times more common in google searches than "por partir" so at the very least "por partir" is not common usage.


I get so confused with how to use/translate por, para, de, en, etc. I wish I knew the secrets, or how to find them.


They are for cutting

So wrong


In my book "501 Spanish Verbs, they use "para" instead of "por" to mean about to.


It looks like Argentina uses "estar para", but the examples did not include "salir" or "partir". They had "estar para morir" for instance.


Perhaps just like with English, what is considered "proper" is not what is always used and there are differences in English speaking countries. Thanks for the reference.


why not "they are leaving"?


They are leaving. (now accepted)


In Duo, they would want you to use the present progressive tense. and "leaving" is probably a different verb than "depart"

"ellos se están yendo" would probably be what Duo wants for "they are leaving"


tricky one but about to leave was the only way that made sense to me, not that that's a guarantee of it being right on here;)


Should not "They are to leave." be accepted?


I don't think so.

"They are to leave" means "They are required to leave", but "estar por" just means "are about to", or "are in the mood to" without any sense of obligation.


Thanks Barbara, your explanation makes perfectly sense. Being Norwegian, I´m neither a native English nor native Spanish speaker, so I find input from native speakers regarding meanings and nuances of words and expressions extremely useful.


not quite true, 'they are to (leave)' is also a formal way of expressing what is about to happen, you might use that with a detirmener for context i.e. 'they are to leave soon', but either can be correct. would be used tipically with the contraction 'they're' otherwise the phrasing might seem a little archaic


How am I supposed to know this?


I wrote They are just leaving and cannot understand why that won't work?


Model: El tren está para salir. (The train is about to leave.) -http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/porpara.htm


The construction is: estar + por + infinitive. When used with this construction, por is used to indicate ''to be about to do something'' or ''in favor of something or someone''. For example: Estamos por terminar (We are about to finish.) Ellos están por un aumento de sueldo. (They support a pay raise.)

Partir can be translated as both to depart or to leave. To depart is considered more formal.


I´m asking this because I´m not a native English speaker: Would "They are about to split" have approximately the same meaning? In this context I perceive "partir" as "leave, break up, split".


When partir is used as a transitive verb, meaning it has a direct object, it means to cut, to split, to break, or to crack, as in 'El río parte la ciudad en dos' (the river splits the city in two. It is only when the verb does not have a direct object and is intransitive, does it mean to depart, to leave or to set off.

And if it is 'partir de' then it means to start (Partiremos de la teoría más básica) We'll start with the most basic theory.



"por" appears to have a million meanings and uses,and i am struggling to master them.


So estar por can be translated to to be about to

[deactivated user]

    When to use partir-to cut or partir-to go or am I missin g the spelliong for this word????


    Let's ask Duolingo for a por vs para guide


    My club code is BPER39. It's lots of fun!


    DP would not accept " leave" ,only depart?


    Están a punto de partir. Están por partir. They're about to leave. Accepted.


    I translated this: ¨They are ready to depart¨ Is it possible solution although not word by word translation?


    I know very few American English speaker who would say "they are about to depart". Most people I know would say "they are leaving", i.e. they are in the process of departing.


    I have been on my cell at the airport and said "Okay, I have to go. We're about to leave." By the way, "They are about to leave." is an accepted answer.


    Absolutely - it would be understood, but "depart" sounds stilted and overly formal to an American ear and is rarely used. The only common uses of the word that come to mind are "departures" referring to planes scheduled to leave an airport and "departure lounge," of which there is one in every American airport (ditto for trains and train stations). We don't have any "leaving lounges." ;)


    They are leaving. (now accepted)


    what about.... they are ready to leave? I would say that before I'd say ....about to leave.


    Shouldn't this be "set off" and not depart? The English is certainly correct


    "set off" and "depart" seem synonymous to me.


    It looks like I am the only one who thought this could mean, "They are for sharing". For example if you brought a plate of cookies to work with you for your fellow workers. Is this totally off the wall?


    I think that would be "Ellos son para compartir". Being for sharing is an attribute, not a condition, so it should be "ser". The DL sentence uses "estar", so I'm guessing that "Ellos están por partir" can't mean "They are for sharing".

    I don't know for sure whether "Ellos son por partir" could mean "They are for sharing", but "son por partir" only gets 5 hits on Google and "están para compartir" gets 5 million hits.


    estar por
    1. to be for, be in favor of 2. - to be about to


    This is another idiom. Duolingo did not introduce this use of "por". There goes a heart,already.


    And at what point exactly did you expect DL to introduce the use of "por" this way if not in one of the exercices ? At this point everyone should have pretty much realized that DL is not much for hand-holding, there are no introductory lessons, just contextual/immersion learning. It’s like reading a book or hearing people talk : you hear or read some really weird expression and after encountering it a few times you realize it’s an idiom and you have to use it as a whole. Don’t be too focused on that heart :) The aim here is not just to complete a node but to be capable of redoing that node and not worry about not having enough heart. Cheers.


    You're right Duo doesn't do a lot of hand-holding. But some things to just need some explaining. Gotta say the new heartless system makes it a lot easier to just take a chance. Still Duo has some nice one-line explanations in the German course. They'd be really nice in the Spanish course too, if only to get por and para right, and which verbs need a preposition after them, and any thumbrules for gender, and for stress & accents.


    What about, "They are about to PART." as in go their own way? "Separar" may be a better choice but why wouldn`t "partir" work, too?


    More commonly, I think the translation can be put "They are about to split (up)"

    [deactivated user]

      Yes, I wrote "They are about to break up" but it was marked wrong. Why?


      I put they ready to leave which I thought conveyed the same meaning. DL disagreed. Anyone else on my side?


      I was wrong. This question has the most comments of any question that I've seen. This phrase is makes no sense. It definitely deserves an explanation! Unless I'm the only one to miss that "about" was needed to be in the answer. A balloon like for pointing out typos would be great.


      I now understand this above sentence, but I initially translted it as "They are for cutting" I was marked wrong but id like to know how to say my translation in spanish (They are for cutting). Thanks


      Partir can also mean start


      here's another good por/para reference. I like this site because there are tons of practice sentences, with explanations for right or wrong answers.



      strange - the only translations I can find (non exhaustive search) have turned up to be for .... and to be in favor of .... Nothing to indicate being about to do something.


      My brains immediate translation for this was "they are here to party"


      They are going to leave


      They are going to leave


      I put "They have to split" and I was thinking, Duolingo is really hip now. Lol. WRONG!


      estamos "por" partir = we are in favor of leaving; estamos "para partir" = we are about to depart.

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