Consideration of Verbs in Spanish Translation

If we compare Spanish and English languages, the Spanish and English verb structures vary greatly from one another and lead to many problems for the Spanish translator. Issues related to verbs in Spanish translation begin with something as elementary as the use of the ‘ser´ and the ‘estar´. More complex issues arise as English has one simple past tense while Spanish has two, namely, the preterit and the imperfect. Then, English rarely uses the subjunctive while its use is rampant in Spanish and complicated by finer nuances.

Problem Solving with Verbs in Spanish Translation

The Spanish translator also has to learn to negotiate verb problems in Spanish translation that arise because of the difference between the English ‘to know´ and the Spanish ‘saber/conocer´ and the English ‘do/make´ and the Spanish ‘hacer´. Some verbs in Spanish translation are reflexive in Spanish but not in English, for example, fall down, get up, shave, etc. The English use of modals and auxiliaries like ‘will/shall, would/should, may/might, can/could, must´ can appear very confusing to the Spanish translator.

Present/Progressive Tense

The present participle exists both in English and Spanish. In Spanish it is known as the ‘el gerundio´. In English, it is the verb form that ends with an '-ing´, and in Spanish it is the verb form that ends in an ‘-ando´ or ‘-endo´. For example, hablando/speaking, bebiendo/ drinking, viviendo/living, etc. In both languages, the gerund is used to form the progressive or continuous tenses. However, the form is used more frequently in English than in Spanish. The ways in which they are used in the two languages are also markedly different.

Firstly, unlike Spanish, English uses it to indicate the progressive tense. So, the Spanish translation of the English ‘What are you eating?´ could be ‘que estás comiendo´, but would read best as ‘qué comes´. Secondly, unlike Spanish, English can use it as an adjective. For example, while ‘interesting idea´ is valid in English, it has to be translated into Spanish as ‘idea interesante´. The English present participle can be used as a substitute for the Spanish infinitive. Hence ‘le gusta comer´ can be translated as ‘he likes eating´.

The other aspect observed in English language is that the present progressive tense or the ‘-ing´ form can be used to indicate a future event, for example, ‘We are leaving tomorrow´. But that would be a grave mistake in Spanish. Spanish uses either the simple present tense or the future tense. In most of the cases, using the present participle or the ‘el gerundio´ in Spanish is not grammatically incorrect, but it hampers the natural flow of the language and sounds foreign. Hence, the Spanish translator should take pains to avoid its use in Spanish translation.






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