Blog » Language Learning » Learn Spanish » Spanish Grammar » Present Progressive in Spanish: A Simple (But Complete) Guide

Present Progressive in Spanish: A Simple (But Complete) Guide

The Spanish language has 16 verb tenses and the present progressive tense is not one of them. Wait! What? “But I have I used the present progressive in Spanish before”, you may say. Let me explain.

What in English is called “present progressive” in Spanish is called “perífrasis verbal” (verb phrase). This particular verb phrase is made up of the verb “estar” and a verb that ends in “ando” or “iendo”. The good news is that this “verb phrase” works very similarly to the present progressive you are familiar with.

In this lesson, we will show you how to form this structure, which, for the purposes of this article, we will call present progressive in Spanish. We will also show you when and how to use this form. Ready? Let’s dive into it.

Spanish Present Progressive Structure

To form the present progressive or continuous tense in Spanish, you only need two things, the auxiliary verb “estar” and a present participle. In Spanish, present participles are verbs that end in -ando or -iendo.

This tense appears in three different forms in Spanish conversations. You can create affirmative, negative and interrogative sentences with the Spanish progressive tense. Below, we share with you the patterns you can use to form this tense.

Affirmative Form

Roberto está bailando. (subject + estar + verb in -ando/iendo)

Negative Form

Roberto no está bailando. (subject + no + estar + verb in -ando/iendo)

Interrogative Form

¿Roberto está bailando? (¿ + subject + estar + verb in -ando/iendo + ?)

To create closed questions (questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no”) in Spanish is very simple. The structure used to create affirmative and interrogative forms in Spanish is the same.

To turn an affirmative statement into a question, you simply need to change the tone of your voice. Raise it a bit at the end of the statement.

Did you notice that we changed the form of the verb “estar” in the examples above? It’s because in Spanish the forms of verbs change depending on the person that performs the action.

To form the Spanish present progressive tense, we need to use the form of the verb “estar” that belongs to the person we refer to. Do you know how to conjugate this verb in the simple present tense?

Simple Present of Estar

To use the Spanish present progressive tense correctly, you need to learn by heart the conjugation of “estar”. Here are all the conjugations of this verb.

Singular Pronouns

  • yo estoy (I am)
  • tú estás (you are)
  • usted está (you are)
  • vos estás (you are)
  • él está (he is)
  • ella está (she is)

Plural Pronouns

  • nosotros estamos (we are)
  • nosotras estamos (we are)
  • vosotros estáis (you are)
  • vosotras estáis (you are)
  • ustedes están (you are)
  • ellos están (they are)
  • ellas están (they are)

Now you know how to conjugate the verb “estar” with all the Spanish personal pronouns. Remember, you can substitute the pronouns above and use names instead.

  • Nosotras estamos hablando. (We are speaking.)
  • Marta y yo estamos hablando. (Marta and I are speaking.)

Present participles in Spanish

To form the present progressive or continuous tense in Spanish, you also need to know how to form present participles. To form them you simply need to add -ando or -iendo to verbs. We’ll show you how to do it.

Regular Present Participles

There are three types of verbs in Spanish, the ones that end in “ar”, “er”, and “ir”. Look at the following table and try to infer the rules to form present participles in Spanish.

ANDO IENDO
cantar

saltar

estudiar

caminar

bailar

cantando

saltando

estudiando

caminando

bailando

correr

beber

aprender

vender

barrer

corriendo

bebiendo

aprendiendo

vendiendo

barriendo

vivir

recibir

decidir

cumplir

sufrir

viviendo

recibiendo

decidiendo

cumpliendo

sufriendo

To form the present participle of verbs that end in “ar”, we simply need to substitute the “ar” ending and place “ando” instead.

  • cant(ar)ando

To form the present participle of verbs that end in “er” and “ir”, we simply need to substitute the ending “er” or “ir” and write “iendo” instead.

  • corr(er)iendo
  • viv(ir)iendo

Irregular Present Participles

There are some irregular present participles in Spanish, and learning the most common ones will help you use the Spanish present continuous correctly. Here they are!

Change the vowel “e” for “i” in the following group of irregular present participles.

  • decir (say) – diciendo
  • elegir (choose) – eligiendo
  • freír (fry) – friendo
  • hervir (boil) – hirviendo
  • medir (measure) – midiendo
  • mentir (lie) – mintiendo
  • repetir (repeat) – repitiendo
  • reír (laugh) – riendo
  • seguir (follow) – siguiendo
  • sentir (feel) – sintiendo

Change the vowel “o” for “u” in the following verbs.

  • morir (die) – muriendo
  • dormir (sleep) – durmiendo

Change the “i” in “iendo” for the letter “y” in the following group of verbs.

  • ir (go) – yendo
  • construir (build) – construyendo
  • destruir (destroy) – destruyendo
  • leer (read) – leyendo
  • oír (listen) – oyendo
  • traer (bring) – trayendo
  • huir  (flee)- huyendo
  • poseer (possess) – poseyendo
  • caer (fall) – cayendo
  • influir (affect) – influyendo

Spanish Present Progressive Usage

We’ve talked a lot about the structure of the present continuous tense in Spanish, but when should we use it? In Spanish, this structure is used in two different ways.

  • It is used to express that an action is happening right now (at the moment of speaking).
    • Estoy escribiendo este artículo. (I am writing this post.)
  • It is used to express that an action occurs repeatedly.
    • Él siempre está haciendo tonterías. (He is always doing silly things.)

Important: You should never use this tense to talk about the future.


Spanish Present Progressive Examples

Affirmative Sentences

  • Estoy escribiendo una carta para Karen.
    (I’m writing a letter for Karen.)
  • Estás haciendo un buen trabajo.
    (You are doing a good job.)
  • Vos estás viviendo en Barcelona, ¿no es cierto?
    (You are living in Barcelona, aren’t you?)
  • Usted está manejando.
    (You are driving.)
  • Él está haciendo ejercicio.
    (He is exercising.)
  • Ella está lavando los platos.
    (She’s washing the dishes.)
  • Nosotros estamos poniendo atención.
    (We are paying attention.)
  • Nosotras estamos hablando por teléfono.
    (We are talking on the phone.)
  • Vosotros estáis leyendo ese libro.
    (You are reading that book.)
  • Ustedes están trabajando juntos.
    (You are working together.)
  • Ellos están durmiendo.
    (They are sleeping.)
  • Ellas están corriendo.
    (They are running.)

Negatives Sentences

  • Yo no estoy escribiendo una carta para Karen.
    (I am not writing a letter for Karen.)
  • Tú no estás haciendo un buen trabajo.
    (You are not doing a good job.)
  • Vos no estás viviendo en Barcelona.
    (You are not living in Barcelona.)
  • Usted no está manejando.
    (You are not driving.)
  • Él no está haciendo ejercicio.
    (He is not exercising.)
  • Ella no está lavando los platos.
    (She is not washing the dishes.)
  • Nosotros no estamos poniendo atención.
    (We are not paying attention.)
  • Nosotras no estamos hablando por teléfono.
    (We are not talking on the phone.) 
  • Vosotros no estáis leyendo ese libro.
    (You are not reading that book.)
  • Ustedes no están trabajando juntos.
    (You are not working together.)
  • Ellos no están durmiendo.
    (They are not sleeping.)
  • Ellas no están corriendo.
    (They are not running.)

Interrogative Sentences

  • ¿Estoy escribiendo una carta para Karen?
    (Am I writing a letter for Karen?)
  • ¿Estás haciendo un buen trabajo?
    (Are you doing a good job?)
  • ¿Vos estás viviendo en Barcelona?
    (Are you living in Barcelona?)
  • ¿Usted está manejando?
    (Are you driving?)
  • ¿Él está haciendo ejercicio?
    (Is he exercising?)
  • ¿Ella está lavando los platos?
    (Is she washing the dishes?)
  • ¿Nosotros estamos poniendo atención?
    (Are we paying attention?)
  • ¿Nosotras estamos hablando por teléfono?
    (Are we talking on the phone?) 
  • ¿Vosotros estáis leyendo ese libro?
    (Are you reading that book?)
  • ¿Ustedes están trabajando juntos?
    (Are you working together?)
  • ¿Ellos están durmiendo?
    (Are they sleeping?)
  • ¿Ellas están corriendo?
    (Are they running?)

Examples from the News

  • El activista afirma que la “reproducción explosiva” de las plagas en el contaminado río Yamuna está afectando (is affecting) la belleza del monumento. (BBC Mundo, 2018)
  • Sin embargo, dentro del contexto europeo, el billete de 500 euros está reduciendo (is reducing) su presencia en la vida de los europeos. (Fortuño, 2018)
  • Los datos obtenidos demostraron que los niveles de oxígeno ahora son casi nulos en la región, mientras que la zona muerta está creciendo (is growing) y conllevaría “consecuencias nefastas” para quienes dependen de los océanos como fuente de empleo y alimento. (RT en Español, 2018)

Spanish Present Progressive Practice

Do you remember how to form the present progressive tense in Spanish? Test your knowledge with this quiz by choosing the correct form on each of the following statements.

  • Los chicos están ___ en la escuela.
    • estudian
    • estudiar
    • estudiando
    • estudiado
  • Mis abuelos ___ caminando en el parque.
    • estoy
    • estás
    • estamos
    • están
  • Karen y Nelson están ___ en la pista de baile.
    • bailan
    • bailando
    • bailado
    • bailamos
  • Tu no ___ trabajando.
    • estás
    • estoy
    • estamos
    • están
  • Estoy ___ en México.
    • viviendo
    • viviando
    • vivirando
    • viviriendo
  • Ellos ___ sufriendo mucho.
    • estoy
    • estamos
    • están
    • está
  • Estoy ___ un poco de agua.
    • hirviendo
    • hervir
    • hervido
    • herviendo
  • La bebé ___ durmiendo.
    • estoy
    • está
    • estamos
    • están
  • Nosotros ___ construyendo una casa en el lago.
    • estoy
    • está
    • estamos
    • están
  • Te estamos ___.
    • escuchar
    • escuchando
    • escuchado
    • escuché

Answers: 1. estudiando; 2. están; 3. bailando; 4. estás; 5. viviendo; 6. están; 7. hirviendo; 8. está; 9. estamos; 10. escuchando

Click here to read our comprehensive guide to all Spanish tenses!

And Finally

Learning a new structure can be challenging, but the results are worth the effort. Practice, practice, and practice some more. It can help you internalize new structures unconsciously.  

Practice the present progressive in Spanish with thousands of sentences on Clozemaster!   


References

BBC Mundo. (2018). Por qué el Taj Mahal se está poniendo verde. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-43971174 [Accessed 2 May 2018].

Fortuño, M. (2018). Los billetes de 500 euros están desapareciendo. [online] Elblogsalmon.com. Available at: https://www.elblogsalmon.com/economia/los-billetes-de-500-euros-estan-desapareciendo [Accessed 2 May 2018].

RT en Español. (2018). ¿Qué es la enorme zona muerta del mar Arábigo?. [online] Available at: https://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/270147-enorme-zona-muerta-golfo-oman-peligro [Accessed 2 May 2018].

 


1 thought on “Present Progressive in Spanish: A Simple (But Complete) Guide”

  1. Pingback: Estar Conjugation: The Ultimate Guide to Conjugating Estar in Spanish

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *