Progressive in Spanish
In this lesson, we cover how present participles are formed. Also, the different types of progressive tenses are discussed. Some versions of progressive tenses are discussed in other lessons. When required, links are provided.
The progressive tense is built by using “estar” and the present participle of the second verb.
Let us first remember how to conjugate estar in present tense, because you will use this form of estar to build the present progressive.
Let us see next how to form a present participle in Spanish.
A present participle, also known as gerund, is formed by dropping the infinitive ending and adding the endings –ando for “ar” verbs and “-iendo” for “er” and “ir” verbs. You may think a present participle as the equivalent of the English gerund “-ing”.
For example; the present participle of hablar is hablando, that of comer is comiendo and that of vivir is viviendo.
As usual, there are some verbs which have irregular endings.
For example the present participle of leer is leyendo. More examples of irregular present participles are given in the vocabulary section below.
When to use present participle
Present participle is used much less than it is used in English. Its primary use is to form the progressive tenses. Also note that it is always used with verbs, not as a stand-alone noun or adjective.
- It is used to form progressive tenses as stated above.
- It is not used as adjectives, contrary to past participles.
- It cannot be used as a noun either, contrary to English.
- It is not used in future tense, contrary to English.
As stated above, one uses the present conjugation of estar together with the present participle. Present progressive tense is used only to refer to actions in progress, not for actions that will occur in the future which is contrary to English.
- Ella está estudiando igles (she is studying English)
It is worth emphasizing that from the sentence above, we should conclude that “she’s studying English at the moment”. It is not a general thing that she is doing these days.
There are two past progressive tenses in Spanish corresponding to the two simple past tenses, you learnt before: imperfect progressive and preterite progressive.
Again, the imperfect progressive is formed by using estar and the present participle. But, this time you need to use the imperfect conjugation of estar:
As you can guess this form of progressive tense corresponds to (was/were +ing) in English.
(yo) estaba comiendo (I was eating)
The second progressive tense is the preterite progressive. The use of this tense is very uncommon. Also, note that the general principles and differences that we covered in preterite and imperfect lessons are valid here. For example, preterite progressive refers to the past actions with clear end. Please refer to the corresponding lessons for further information.
As you might guess, the preterite progressive is formed by the preterite of estar and the present participle.
Estuve trabajando hasta las nueve (I was working until nine o’clock)
Learn some common verbs which have irregular present participles
decir (to say) /diciendo
mentir (to lie) /mintiendo
morir (to die) / muriendo
venir (to come) /viniendo
caer (to fall) /cayendo
creer (to think) /creyendo
huir (to run away) /huyendo
construir (to build) /construyendo
ir (to go) /yendo
corregir (to correct) /corrigiendo
influir (to influence) / influyendo
oír (to hear) /oyendo
traer (to bring) /trayendo
seguir (to follow) /siguiendo
despedirse (to say goodbye) / despidiéndose
conseguir (to achieve) /consiguiendo
destruir (to destroy) / destruyendo
divertirse (to have fun) /divertiéndose
pedir (to ask for) /pidiendo
reír (to laugh) / riendo
repetir (to repeat) / repitiendo
server (to serve) /sirviendo
traer (to bring) / trayendo
vestirse( to get dressed ) /vistiéndose