Progressive Tense in Spanish Grammar

Introduction

The present progressive with estar + gerundio in Spanish grammar is similar to the English present progressive tense. We use this construction to emphasise the process or progression of an action in the present. We use the verb estar and the gerund of the main verb to conjugate this tense.

Learn the conjugation rules and usage of the progressive tense in Spanish grammar with Lingolia. In the exercises, you can practise conjugating estar + gerundio and test your knowledge. In tense comparison, you will find an overview of all the tenses in Spanish grammar.

Example

Zeichnung
  • ¿Es éste tu loro? ¡Qué bueno y qué tranquilo parece!
  • ¡Qué va! Si está callado es porque está tramando algo. Siempre está diciendo tonterías e intentando morder los dedos de los que pasan por delante de la jaula.
  • Ahora que lo dices, creo que me está mirando de una forma extraña. Mejor si me alejo de la jaula, ¿no?
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Usage

We use the progressive tense (estar + gerundio) to:

  • express an action that is in progress at the moment of speaking
    Example:
    Me está mirando de forma extraña.He’s looking at me in such a funny way.
    Si está callado es porque está tramando algo.If he’s quiet, that means he’s busy plotting something.

    the action can be at the moment of speaking but doesn’t have to be

  • to express a recurring action
    Example:
    Siempre está diciendo tonterías e intentando morder los dedos de los que pasan delante de la jaula.He’s always saying silly things and trying to bite the finger of anyone who passes his cage.

Verb Conjugation: estar + gerundio

To conjugate the present progressive with estar + gerundio, we take a present form of the verb estar and the main verb in its gerund form, the gerund is the same for all forms. See the table below:

person estar gerund
yo estoy

hablando

aprendiendo

viviendo

estás
él/ella/usted está
nosotros/-as estamos
vosotros/-as estáis
ellos/ellas/ustedes están

Gerund

To form the gerund (gerundio), we remove the infinitive -ar, -er, -ir endings and add the following ones:

ending example
infinitive gerund infinitive gerund
-ar -ando hablar hablando
-er -iendo aprender aprendiendo
-ir -iendo vivir viviendo

Exceptions

Stem changing verbs (-e → -i/-ie, -o → -ue) also change their stem in the gerund.

infinitive gerund
decir diciendo
divertir divirtiendo
dormir durmiendo
morir muriendo
pedir pidiendo
poder pudiendo
preferir prefiriendo
servir sirviendo

Verbs that end in -er/-ir whose word stem ends with a vowel, form the gerund with -yendo (not: -iendo).

Example:
construir → construyendo
ir → yendo
leer → leyendo
oír → oyendo
traer → trayendo

Gerund or Present Participle?

The English gerund is not the same as the Spanish gerundio.
In English grammar, the gerund is an -ing verb which is used like a noun as the subject of sentence, or after certain verbs.

Example:
Swimming is fun.

Gerund as the subject. Functions like a noun.

I like swimming.

Gerund after the verb like. Functions like a noun.

The Spanish gerundio is verb that indicates a continuing action. It corresponds to the English present participle which is also used in progressive tenses with the verb be.

Example:
Me está mirando.
He is looking at me.