In Spanish, there is an especial kind of constructions, which are very frequent. They consist of two or more verbs. The sum of those two verbs results in a new meaning. In addition, these constructions work as a single verb so their verbs can not be separated and, almost always, they are fixed combinations in which the conjugated verb can not be replaced by a synonymous. These structures are called verbal periphrases.
What are verbal periphrases made up by?
a. A conjugated verb, which provides the construction with grammatical meaning (tense, mode, subject…). This verb is always placed first.
b. A verb in infinitive, gerund or past participle forms. It provides the periphrases with lexical meaning.
c. A connector can appear between these two previous elements sometimes. It can be a preposition or a conjunction.
There are different kinds of periphrases. In this post, you will learn one of them, the periphrases that inform about the state and development of the action conveyed by the verb. It may seem hard, but you will see it is a piece of cake thanks to this classification and the following examples.
Periphrases combined with infinitive form
1. Some of the preriphrases mean that the action is going to start in a close future, such as ir a + infinitive. → María va a comprar un coche – (María is going to buy a car).
2. Some others tell the moment in which moment the action starts, such as
Echarse a + infinitive → Juan se echó a reír – (Juan started to laugh)
Empezar a + infinitive → Hemos empezado a jugar al tenis – (We have started playing tennis)
Ponerse a + infinitive → El niño se ha puesto a jugar con el balón – (The boy has started to play with the ball)
Estar a punto de + infinitive →Ella está a punto de llegar a casa – (She is about to get home)
3. Other periphrases tell that the action has just finished or it has been interrupted:
Acabar de + infinitive → Mi amiga acaba de salir del cine – (My friend has just left the cinema)
Terminar de + infinitive → He terminado de limpiar mi piso – (I have just finished cleaning my flat)
Dejar de + infinitive → Daniel dejó de fumar el año pasado – (Daniel stopped smoking last year)
4. Finally, there are periphrases tell that the action is repeated such as volver a + infinitive. → Pronto, volverá a ser verano – (Soon, it will be summer again)
Periphrases combined with gerund form
1. Periphrases that convey action in progress, such as:
Estar + gerund → Mi hija está dibujando una casa – (My daughter is drawing a house)
Continuar + gerund → Su vecino continuó cortando el césped del jardín – (Her neighbour kept mowing the grass in the garden)
Llevar + gerund → Lleva cantando toda la tarde – (He has been singing all the evening long)
Seguir + gerund→ El año que viene, seguiréis estudiando español. – (Next year, you will continue studying Spanish)
Raquel Díez González – Practica Español
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid – Máster universitario en Lengua española: investigación y prácticas profesionales