Monday, December 18, 2006

What is the difference between using "estar" and "ir" when forming a progressive tense?

What is the difference, when using a progressive tense, between using "estar" and "ir"? I am not talking about using "ir" for something in the future, I am talking about using it in place of "estar" in forming the progressive.

Estoy leyendo el periódico.
Poco a poco, voy entiendo el español.

- Altman 9999

Dear Altman,

I understand your point. Both are present progressive/continuous in English.

You can use the verb "ir" when something is being done gradually, by stages/degrees. It emphasizes the staged progress. You don't use the verb "ir" when the action expresses an action in progress, but not exactly by stages. e.g., I'm reading, I'm eating.

It's sort of like this:

Poco a poco, estoy entendiendo el español
(Little by little, I'm understanding Spanish)

Poco a poco, voy entendiendo el español
(Little by little, I am moving in the direction of understanding Spanish)

Perhaps this translation conveys the movement inherent in "ir" that differentiates it from the more static "estar". I think this is the way you'll easily remember it.


- Karin

No comments: