I would like to know the exact translation from Spanish: "Ellos vienen con nosotros"? "Do they come with us"? That sounds correct to me, but I´ve heard so many times people say: "Are they coming with us"? if this is also a correct translation, the fact that it contains the verb "TO BE", is something I cannot reconcile. Can you help? Thank you.

  • 1
    Do you watch TV? is a "general" question (asking whether you habitually or ever watch TV), whereas Are you watching TV? is a "specific" question (are you currently watching?). Except with your specific example the do version might occasionally be used in the context of a single future excursion - where it's more evocative of detailed future plans than the are version. I think that "detailed plan" implication arises because do they come more strongly alludes to Present intentions rather than Future (planned) actions. Commented Sep 28, 2022 at 16:08

1 Answer 1


This is a way in which English and Spanish are different, and you are also discovering a strange way that we use the present progressive in English!

In English, the "simple present" tense is badly named; it should be called something like the "general truth" tense. When you say "They come with us/Do they come with us?" you are talking about a general truth, like whether this usually happens or always happens.

In English, we sometimes use the present continuous tense (They are coming with us/Are they coming with us?) to talk about future plans!

So if you are asking about a general truth, you would ask "Do they come with us?" (that is, do they come with us every time), but if you are asking about a plan, you would ask "Are they coming with us?"

  • 1
    +1 Adding that it's confusing because "simple" refers to the complexity of the verb structure, not the function. It's simple because it's just one conjugated word, not because of the function. All the non-"simple" verb forms have more than one word.
    – gotube
    Commented Sep 28, 2022 at 17:10
  • 1
    In the UK, at least, when discussing a plan or arrangement, I agree that it is quite usual to say 'Are they coming with us?', but it isn't unknown to hear e.g. 'Does Aunt Sally come with us, or does she go in the car with Dad? And where does she sit in church?' Commented Sep 29, 2022 at 19:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .