6

I have been talking to some people who start questions with "Es que..." instead of just asking the question with a more relevant verb.

¿Es que tienes ganas de verlo?

instead of

¿Tienes ganas de verlo?

I understand the questions still, but I would love to get some insight of why speakers would use this at the beginning of a question, or in which contexts they are wont to using it.

6

There is a small distinction between the two questions.

Please consider the following exchange:

  • No he visto a Juan en la fiesta
  • ¿Es que tienes ganas de verlo?

Which translates to:

  • I haven't seen Juan at this party
  • Could it be that you want to see him?

Versus the next one:

  • No he visto a Juan en la fiesta
  • ¿Tienes ganas de verlo?

Which translates to:

  • I haven't seen Juan at this party
  • Do you want to see him?

As you can see, there is a small tonal difference. The first one could lead to a playful teasing conversation "Since when do you like Juan?" while the second is more neutral.

Here are a few phrases equivalent to "¿Es que tienes ganas de verlo?" in Spanish:

  • ¿Será que tienes ganas de verlo?
  • ¿Podría ser que tienes ganas de verlo?
  • ¿Acaso tienes ganas de verlo? (As mentioned by Paco)
  • ¿Acaso es que tienes ganas de verlo?
  • ¿Acaso será que tienes ganas de verlo?
  • ¿Acaso podría ser que tienes ganas de verlo?

As you can see "Acaso" is somewhat optional.

Note that this is from observation of Latin American usage of Spanish, so Paco's point is valid in Latin American countries, as well.

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3

Do you know ¿Acaso...?? It's the same, just nobody really says acaso, but ¿Es que...? :)

Note I talk about Spain. No idea how it would be in American countries.

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  • Yo escribiendo una pedazo de respuesta explicándolo y era tan fácil xD – Nox Dec 11 '16 at 18:38
  • The only Spanish I have learned is from Spain and I've never really heard people saying 'Acaso' like that at the beginning, but it's interesting. – Tom Sep 15 '18 at 22:26
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    Guess I'm the odd one out. I've definitely heard acaso in speech (in Madrid no less) – user0721090601 Sep 16 '18 at 3:54
  • I think "acaso" at the beginning of a sentence is used more often in translated works, like movies or tv shows. – Brian H. Sep 17 '18 at 14:23
1

It's a difference of emphasis, the first one is from the textbook but possibly robotic whereas the second one has a bit more emphasis on it and more character.

¿Tienes ganas de verlo? - Do you want to see it/him? (Straight, no nonsense).

¿Es que tienes ganas de verlo? - Is it really that you want to see it/him? (Is that what it is? Is that what is happening? Could it be? Tell me more).

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