Can anyone explain, why the opposite sentence to "El caballo corre" would be "El caballo no está corriendo". Why not "El caballo no corre"?

The same: "Los gatos duermen" and (opposite) "El gato no está durmiendo", but not "El gato no duerme"?

  • 3
    Where are you being told that "el caballo no corre" or "el gato no duerme" is wrong? It's perfectly fine . Mar 28 '17 at 20:07
  • Maybe someone told you not to say "el caballo no corre" because it might seem as though the horse was a machine that wasn't working (cf. I'll need a tow because the car won't run). Mar 30 '17 at 5:54
  • Hello! In Rosetta Stone Spanish.
    – SERGEY
    Mar 30 '17 at 8:22

The problem is that the sentence "El gato duerme" (I'm using the singular here) could mean two things.

The cat sleeps

The cat is sleeping.

So the opposite to the first sentence would be

The cat does not sleep = El gato no duerme

And for the second it would be

The cat is not sleeping = El gato no está durmiendo

So you are correct but there are two "correct" alternatives.

The same applies for the "El caballo corre" = The horse runs or The horse is running.

  • Así es, creo que se enriquecería esta respuesta si se especifica que "El caballo corre" regularmente es una frase en "Presente indicativo".
    – celerno
    Mar 29 '17 at 16:42

Just for me your example is correct on the way to say "El caballo no corre" - "The horse isn't run", because if you want to say "El caballo no esta corriendo" it would be using like that "The horse is not running" the ing at the end for me is always the meaning in spanish that finishes on "ando" and "endo" because is an action that is happening right now or could be on the future.

  • Hello and welcome to Spanish.SE. I think you should visit the tour and help center sections, and learn a little more about the phylosophy of this site. Maybe you should ellaborate a little bit more about the differences between the two tenses.
    – Diego
    Mar 30 '17 at 0:42

The difference is in which of the possible meanings a sentence defaults to.

If you say "el gato duerme" I would typically understand that the cat is sleeping right now, unless you added something like "el gato duerme todos los días".

For some reason, that I can not understand myself, if you say "el gato no duerme" I tend to understand that the cat never sleeps, unless you add something like "en este momento el gato no duerme".

So while "duerme" can mean "sleeps" or "is sleeping", the "no" switches what its default meaning is, and in the negative, to keep the same meaning that the affirmative defaulted to, you need the less ambiguous "está durmiendo".

Of course, all the same applies to the example about the horse.

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