Posted by: janecronin | August 20, 2017


Seguir is a verb that is commonly used with two different meanings.  The main meaning is “to follow”.  So, for example, the familiar command “follow me” is “sígueme” (or the more formal sígame) and “to follow the signs” is “seguir las señales”.  As well as physically following a person or vehicle, we might “follow” a TV series “seguir una serie” or follow some instructions “seguir las instrucciones”.

The other meaning of “seguir” is to “continue”.  It is usually followed by a second verb in the gerund (-ing) form.  In other words, “to continue reading” is “seguir leyendo” and “to continue studying” is “seguir estudiando”.  If you wanted to tell someone just to continue with something, you can use the command on its own “sigue” or “siga”.

At this point we have to notice the peculiarity of the English language, which is that although all the English above is completely understandable and correct, it is far more common for us to use the phrasal verb “to carry on”.  Our language really is very odd in this respect.  If someone interrupts what they are doing and you wish them to continue, you would say: “carry on”.  Any foreign student of English would think – carry what onto what?   So, we need to think of “seguir” as meaning “to follow”, “to continue” and “to carry on” (ignoring all the other meanings of “carry on” such as “he’s carrying on the woman next door” or “what a carry-on!”)

As far as the pronunciation of “seguir” is concerned, the first thing to realise is that the “u” in “seguir” is silent.  The reason for this is that it is there simply to make sure that the “g” is pronounced as a hard sound, rather than like the characteristic throaty sound as in the Scottish “loch”.   This throaty sound occurs when the letter “g” is followed by an “e” or an “i”, so the silent “u” appears between the letters “ge” and “gi” when the “g” is hardened.  This silent “u” appears in many other forms of the verb, such as “sigue” and “seguimos” or in the past “seguiste” to name but a few.  However, it is dropped in the first person singular, “sigo” (I follow) since it is not required between the “g” and the “o”.  If we were to write “siguo” we would distort the pronunciation by indicating a separately pronounced “u”.

A common derivative of this verb is the word “siguiente” meaning “next” or “following”.  You sometimes see this in supermarkets or other establishments which deal with queues of customers.  Again the “u” is silent in this word.  Another useful thing to know is that there are various other verbs which are formed by adding a prefix to “seguir”.  For example – “conseguir” (to obtain), “proseguir” (to persist), “perseguir” (to chase) which has the same root as the English word “persecution”.  With each of these words, the verb changes are identical to those made by the base verb “seguir”.

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