Well, I haven’t forgotten your homework, and here are the answers.

What are you doing?
¿Qué estás haciendo?

I am measuring the wall.
Estoy midiendo la pared.
You are telling the truth.
Estás diciendo la verdad.
My husband is washing the dishes.
Mi marido está lavando los platos.
We are spending a lot of money.
Estamos gastando mucho dinero.
My children are cleaning the house.
Mis hijos están limpiando la casa.

I’ve just noticed that almost every one of these sentences expresses something that is highly unlikely to happen in my lifetime! However, as their main purpose is to practice the language and not worry about what they actually say, I will concentrate on the job at hand.

As always with translations there are a few details that could be written differently; for example instead of los platos you might have written la vajilla. Also it depends whether a wall is interior – pared – or exterior – muro – to know exactly which word is appropriate. The main point though is the construction of the verb which hopefully is now clear.

I thought a small digression would be good now, as it is still something to do with the connection between English and Spanish languages and cultures. I have mentioned already that the Gerund is used in a far greater variety of ways in English than in Spanish, to the point where, for a foreigner our language appears to be full of these –’ing’ words. I suffer from the fact that my surname ends in –’in’. There isn’t a Spaniard in Spain who doesn’t spell my surname ‘Croning’ the first time they come across it!

There is a phenomenon that occurs in languages which is the incorporation of words from other languages. It is because of this and from the fusions of peoples over the centuries that new languages are born. English is a dominant language in the world for a number of reasons and the result is that it is ‘invading’ the Spanish language, particularly in the form of Gerunds. Here are some examples of what I mean:

“Body-building”, “camping”, “casting”, “catering”, “doping”, “feeling”, “footing”, “happening”, “lifting”, “mailing”, “marketing”, “overbooking”, “parking”, “peeling”, “piercing”, “rafting”, “shopping”, “surfing”, “traveling”, “windsurfing”, “zapping”.

This is actually a small selection of the Gerund ‘loan words’ that now appear frequently in Spanish speech and writing (notice – ‘writing’). The curious thing is that quite a few of them slightly modify the original meaning (notice – ‘meaning’) of the word, which creates some strange problems when translating (notice – ‘translating’).

For example:
“camping” means ‘camp site’
“casting” means ‘audition’
“footing” means ‘jogging’
“mailing” mean ‘mail shot’ (or whatever the real word for that is in English)
“parking” means ‘car park’
“peeling” refers only to beauty treatments and never to potatoes! “piercing” refers specifically the adornment of the human anatomy
“traveling” has something to do with camera movements on film sets.

The potential for confusion between English and Spanish speakers with these words is amazing. (Hmmm – amazing!)

I shouldn’t really admit to this, but a few months ago over the summer I watched the “castings” for Factor X” on the television; that was in between sending out “mailings” from my website. One day someone offered me a “peeling”, but I thought that was a bit decadent, especially as I would not allow my daughter to have a “piercing”. I keep thinking that I should go back to “footing”, but I’m too lazy! Driving to a “parking” is more my scene these days. Whilst on the home front, I’m more like to spend my time “zapping” than organizing a “happening”.

Now you’ve got something else to fill your time – Gerund hunting!

Jane Cronin’s “Step by Step Spanish” articles are available as e-books at www.janecronin.eu where you can also obtain Jane’s “Step by Step Internet Spanish” course.