Present Progressive

In English when we say "I am studying" there are two verbs used: to be and to study. In Spanish the present progressive is also constructed using forms of two verbs. The first verb (the helping verb) is always a present tense form of estar. The form of estar used depends on the subject of the sentence. The second verb is in the form of the present participle.

So, the formula for making the present progressive is:

estar + present participle

But what is the present participle? How is it formed? Allow me to explain:

The present participle is, basically, the -ing form of English. It is used many ways, including as part of the present progressive. To form the present participle, remove the -ar, -er or -ir ending and add the following:

-ar --> -ando
-er --> -iendo
-ir --> -iendo

  • estudiar --> estudiando

  • comer --> comiendo

  • escribir --> escribiendo

Of course there are some verbs that do not follow the regular pattern:

  • -ir stem-changing verbs that stem-change e-ie or e-i in the present also stem-change in the present participle but only make an e-i change.
    • sentir --> sintiendo

    • pedir --> pidiendo

    • venir --> viniendo

    • decir --> diciendo

  • -ir stem-changing verbs that stem-change o-ue in the present also stem-change in the present participle but only make an o-u change.
    • dormir --> durmiendo

    • morir --> muriendo

    • *poder --> pudiendo (*poder is the only -er verb to make such a change.)

  • -ar and -er verbs DO NOT stem-change in the present participle
    • pensar --> pensando

    • jugar --> jugando

    • volver --> volviendo

  • The verbs ir and oír and also verbs that end with -aer, -eer and -uir (but NOT -guir) have present participles that end with -yendo. (The i changes to y.)

    • ir (to go) --> yendo

    • oír (to hear) --> oyendo

    • traer (to bring) --> trayendo

    • leer (to read) --> leyendo

    • huir (to flee/run away) --> huyendo

    So now that you know all the parts of the present progressive, let's put it together to make a sentence. Remember, the formula for forming the present progressive is:

    estar + present participle

    The form of estar changes based on the subject, but the present participle stays the same throughout the present progressive, based on the above rules. So, I am eating would be: Estoy comiendo. She is eating is: Está comiendo

    Here are a few more examples:

    We are talking
        Estamos hablando

    They are asking for money
        Están pidiendo dinero

    Are you sleeping?
        ¿Estás durmiendo?

    The teacher is reading a book
        El maestro está leyendo un libro

    *Note that the verb ir is rarely used in the present progressive form. The simple present tense generally expresses the idea that someone is going, even if it is occuring right now.
    I am going to the store. = Voy a la tienda.
    We are going to the airport right now. = Vamos al aeropuerto ahora mismo.

    Now it's your turn! Let's practice the present progressive form with the two exercises below.

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