Present Continuous Tense in Spanish: Grammar Guide
Are you wondering if there is any use in learning the present continuous tense in Spanish at the beginner level?
Yes, absolutely! What’s more—it’s easy!
After you finish this article, you’ll not only know why, but also how to form the present continuous tense in Spanish. You’ll learn the definition, the conjugation, and the spelling rules for irregular verbs.
At the end, you’ll be able to practice what you’ve learned by taking a quiz and access a free download of a worksheet with the lesson summary.
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What Is Present Continuous Tense in Spanish?
The present continuous tense in Spanish is el presente progresivo or el presente continuo.
The usage is similar to English. El presente progresivo talks about things that you’re doing now or around now.
Ahora estoy cocinando.
I’m cooking dinner right now.
Estoy leyendo ahora un libro interesante.
I’m reading an interesting book now.
Learning this tense will help you talk about current activities and more. If you master it, the following progressive tenses that you’ll learn in the future will be easier to tackle:
- present perfect progressive
- past perfect progressive
- imperfect progressive tense
- preterite progressive tense
- future progressive tense
- conditional progressive tense
How to Form Present Continuous Tense in Spanish
This is an easy tense to form, as it has few irregularities.
The Present Tense Formula
conjugated estar + present participle
Juan está comiendo.
Juan is eating.
Estar means “to be” verb in English and present participle conjugation translates to “-ing” as an English verb ending.
Let’s see both of the elements of the formula and you’ll be creating your own sentences in this tense before you know it.
The first element you need to form the present continuous tense in Spanish is the verb estar conjugated in the present simple tense.
Estar Conjugation Chart – Presente simple
|Yo estoy||I am|
|Tú estás||You are|
|Él, ella, usted está||He, she, it is, (formal you) are|
|Nosotros estamos||We are|
|Ustedes están||You are|
|Ellos, ellas están||They are|
There’s nothing surprising, the only irregular form is the first person singular: estoy.
Present Participle Formation
Now, let’s have a look at the other element—the present participle, also known as a gerund.
- hablando – speaking
- comiendo – eating
- viviendo – living
How to form gerunds in Spanish? In English, it’s easy, you just add the -ing ending. In Spanish you need to see first if the verb that you want in the present participle form ends in -ar, -ir, or –er.
Simply drop the infinitive ending of a verb and add -ando for the -ar verbs, and -iendo for the -er, and -ir verbs.
- am-ar (to love) – am + ando – amando (loving)
- beb-er (to drink) – beb + iendo – bebiendo (drinking)
- abr-ir (to open) – abr + iendo – abriendo (opening)
|-AR Verbs||-ER Verbs||-IR Verbs|
Estoy comiendo una tarta.
I am eating a cake.
Pedro está bailando.
Pedro is dancing.
Estoy viviendo en un piso compartido.
I am living in a shared apartment.
See here the complete definition of gerundio in Spanish by Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas (Panhispanic Dictionary of Doubts).
Reflexive Pronouns with Gerunds
What about the reflexive pronouns in reflexive, reciprocal, and pronominal verbs? Where do they go in a sentence if the verb is in the gerund form? How to make a gerund with verbs like peinarse (to comb oneself) and lavarse (to wash oneself)?
You have two options.
- Put the reflexive pronoun in front of the conjugated estar
reflexive pronoun + conjugated form of estar + gerund
Me estoy lavando.
I’m washing myself.
- Or attach it to the end of the gerund. In this case, you need to remember to add an accent mark of the third from the last syllable.
conjugated form of estar + gerund with the reflexive pronoun
I am washing myself.
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Present Progressive Spanish Irregular Forms
Are there irregular progressive forms? Yes, but not too many.
Some irregular -er gerunds end in -yendo instead of -iendo. The most common ones are:
- creer (to believe) – creyendo
- leer (to read) – leyendo
- traer (to bring) – trayendo
Also, two short -ir verbs undergo the same change:
- ir (to go) – yendo
- oír (to hear) oyendo
Some of the stem-changing verbs in the simple present tense also undergo a stem change in the present participle.
For example, verbs like mentir, morir, and seguir all have slight vowel changes in the present simple as well as the present participle.
- mentir (to lie) – mintiendo
- morir (to die) – muriendo
- seguir (to follow) – siguiendo
- sentir (to feel) – sintiendo
Here is the complete chart of common irregular gerunds:
|caer (to fall)||cayendo (falling)|
|creer (to believe)||creyendo (believing)|
|decir (to say)||diciendo (saying)|
|dormir (to sleep)||durmiendo (sleeping)|
|ir (to go)||yendo (going)|
|leer (to read)||leyendo (reading)|
|mentir (to lie)||mintiendo (lying)|
|morir (to die)||muriendo (dying)|
|oír (to hear)||oyendo (hearing)|
|pedir (to request)||pidiendo (requesting)|
|sentir (to feel)||sintiendo (feeling)|
|traer (to bring)||trayendo (bringing)|
|vestir (to dress, to wear)||vistiendo (dressing, wearing)|
Example Sentences in Spanish
Estoy oyendo un pájaro carpintero.
I’m hearing a woodpecker.
Me estoy vistiendo.
I’m getting dressed.
Adán está mintiendo.
Adam is lying.
Estoy leyendo un periódico.
I am reading a newspaper.
Estamos pidiendo ayuda.
We are asking for help.
Summary and Takeaway
Here’s a quick and simple lesson summary for you to review what we’ve covered in this grammar guide:
- The present continuous tense in Spanish is the -ing tense.
- It is used to talk about things you do at the moment of speaking or “around now.”
- It’s formed by combining a conjugated form of estar with the present participle.
- The -ar gerunds end in -ando; the -ir and -er gerunds end in -iendo.
- Reflexive pronouns go either before the conjugated estar or are attached to the end of the gerund.
Common irregular gerunds include
- caer – cayendo
- creer – creyendo
- decir – diciendo
- dormir – durmiendo
- ir – yendo
- leer – leyendo
- mentir – mintiendo
- oír – oyendo
- pedir – pidiendo
- sentir – sintiendo
- traer – trayendo
Present Continuous Tense in Spanish: QUIZ
Juan ________ comiendo dulces.
English: Juan is eating sweets.
Mi mamá y yo ________ cocinando.
English: My mom and I are cooking.
Me estás ________. (cansar)
English: You are making me tired.
Ellos están ________ en España. (vivir)
English: They are living in Spain.
Ustedes están ________ limonada. (beber)
English: You (all) are drinking lemonade.
No me interrumpas, estoy ________. (leer)
English: Don't interrupt me, I'm reading.
No estoy ________. (poder)
English: I'm not being able to.
________ estoy ________. (peinarse)
English: I'm brushing my hair.
Mi tía está ________ un cuento.
English: My aunt is telling me a story.
¿Me estás ________? (oir)
English: Are you hearing me?
Practice Present Progressive Spanish in a Conversation
Congratulations! You’ve mastered another grammar topic.
What’s next? Speaking activities! Yes, to use the present continuous tense in Spanish like a native speaker, you have to practice speaking—questions, answers, and general conversations using the progressive forms.
Is it worth the effort? Yes, hours of practice will translate into you being bilingual, and being bilingual translated into many benefits. For example, do you want to earn more money? Don’t skip your Spanish lessons and do daily practice. According to a study conducted by The Economist, a person can earn anywhere from $50,000 to $125,000 extra just by knowing a foreign language alone.
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