Spanish Gerunds: The Ultimate Guide to the Progressive Tenses (2023)

Spanish Gerunds: The Ultimate Guide to the Progressive Tenses (1)

February 15, 2021 by Michelle Margaret Fajkus Spanish Grammar 0 comments

The Spanish gerunds (gerundios) are a special, invariable form of the verb that always end in -ndo. For example:

  • Hablando – speaking
  • Comiendo – eating
  • Viviendo – living

As you can see, In English it translates to the -ing form of the verb. However, labeling Spanish gerunds as the “present participle” is a misnomer since they actually serve numerous purposes in Spanish grammar—which we’ll delve into in this blog post.

For the grammar nerds in the house, this next sentence’s gerund verb form has an adverbial function, rather than an adjectival function like a participle or a noun function like an infinitive.

¡Estamos aprendiendo español!
We are learning Spanish!

In simple terms, the gerund is a verb form that expresses continuous action—an action that’s currently happening. To form Spanish gerunds, you drop the infinitive ending of a verb and add -ando for -ar verbs and -iendo for -er and –ir verbs.

Estoy desayunando.
I am eating breakfast.

Estabas jugando.
You were playing.

Spanish Gerunds in Progressive Tenses

In the progressive tenses, the gerund is typically paired with the verb estar to express an action in motion.

As you’ll see, the progressive construction can be paired with almost any verb tense. It means that the action is, was, or will be continuously happening.

Here is the present-tense indicative conjugation of estar combined with present participle of practicar (which is practicando) to form the present progressive tense:

Yo estoy practicando. — I am practicing.

Tú estás practicando. — You are practicing.

Él, ella, usted está practicando. — He is, she is, you are practicing.

Nosotros/as estamos practicando. — We are practicing.

Ellos/as, ustedes están practicando. — They/you are practicing.

Spanish Gerunds: The Ultimate Guide to the Progressive Tenses (2)

Check out these example sentences for various progressive constructions:

Present progressive

Bladimir se está quejando.
Bladimir is complaining.

¿Quién va conduciendo el autobús?
Who’s driving this bus?

Past Progressive

Estuve trabajando como diseñadora en Londres por diez años.
I was working as a designer in London for ten years.

Present Perfect Continuous

Hemos estado hablando y decidimos que vamos a viajar.
We’ve been talking and we decided that we’re going to travel.

Future Perfect Continuous

Luisa habrá estado estudiando en la universidad por seis meses en marzo.
In March, Luisa will have been studying at the university for six months.

Pluperfect Subjunctive

Si hubieras estado prestando atención, esto ya lo habrías sabido.
If you had been paying attention, you would have already known this.

Future Tense

Estaré cantando en la boda de mi prima.
I will be singing at my cousin’s wedding.

Estaremos saliendo mañana.
We will be going out tomorrow.

Note that while in English we can use the present progressive tense to refer to a future event (as in “We are leaving tomorrow”), the above examples are not common in spoken Spanish.

Instead, people opt for simple present tense (salimos mañana) or future tense (saldremos mañana or vamos a salir mañana).

Present Subjunctive

Espero que esté tocando la guitarra todavía.
I hope you’re still playing the guitar.

Past Imperfect

Ernest Hemingway estaba escribiendo en París.
Ernest Hemingway was writing in Paris.

Spanish Gerunds with Other Verbs

You can use other verbs in place of estar with Spanish gerunds to add more precise and nuanced meaning to your sentences. Common verbs to use include:

  • Andar
  • Venir
  • Seguir

Andar + Spanish gerund refers to an aimless, unproductive action.

Los Estados Unidos anda siempre empezando guerras en otros países.
The United States is always starting wars in other countries.

Venir + Spanish gerund refers to an action that’s been going on for a long time and continues.

Últimamente se viene hablando de las ventajas de una dieta a base de plantas.
Lately there has been a lot of talk about the advantages of a plant-based diet.

Seguir + Spanish gerund refers to a continual action.

Roberto sigue buscando la hamaca perfecta para tomar sus siestas.
Roberto keeps looking for the perfect hammock to take his naps in.

6 Ways to Use Independent Spanish Gerunds

You don’t always have to use a main verb with Spanish gerunds. Here are six common ways to use gerunds on their own.

1. Expressing an action in motion

This use of Spanish gerunds can refer to the present, past or future. No need for complicated conjugations!

Estoy descansando un poquito.
I’m resting a bit.

¿Qué estaba haciendo ella?
What was she doing?

2. Expressing how something was done

Similar to the construction in English, by + -ing, you use the Spanish gerund to describe how something is achieved or conducted.

Viajando, conocí muchos países, mucha gente y muchas culturas.
By traveling, I got to know many countries, people, and cultures.

Comiendo menos, bajé de peso.
By eating less, I lost weight.

3. Descriptions

You also use the independent gerund to describe pictures and situations.

Aquí está mi hijo, ganando el torneo de fútbol.
Here’s my son winning the soccer tournament.

¿Dónde está la oficina? — Saliendo del metro a la derecha.
Where is the office? — On the right when you get off the metro.

4. Exclamations

Use Spanish gerunds when you want to say that you think someone spends too much time doing one thing. Use this with expressions like siempre or otra vez.

¡Otra vez comiendo comida chatarra!
Eating fast food again!

¡Siempre leyendo!
Always reading!

5. Sarcasm

You can use the independent gerund for situations in which it’s obvious what’s going on. This is how you ask sarcastic questions that don’t require a response.

¿Qué? ¿Comiéndote mi postre?
Eating my dessert, I see.

6. Giving Orders

Last but not least, you can use Spanish gerunds to give orders.

¡Ve corriendo a la tienda!
Get going to the store, quick!

¡Apresúrate limpiando tu cuarto!
Hurry up cleaning your room!

Most Common Spanish Gerunds

Check out this handy list of 31 common Spanish gerunds, organized by -ar, -er, and -ir verbs.

-ar Verbs

  1. Bajar – to lower – bajando
  2. Cantar – to sing – cantando
  3. Hablar – to talk – hablando
  4. Dar – to give – dando
  5. Tomar – to take – tomando
  6. Caminar – to walk – caminando
  7. Practicar – to practice – practicando
  8. Cocinar – to cook – cocinando
  9. Escuchar – to listen – escuchando
  10. Llevar – to take, to carry – llevando
  11. Bailar to dance – bailando
  12. Jugarto play – jugando
  13. Llegar to arrive – llegando
  14. Pensarto think – pensando

-er Verbs

  1. Comer – to eat – comiendo
  2. Hacer – to do, to make – haciendo
  3. Llover – to rain – lloviendo
  4. Ver – to see – viendo
  5. Ser – to be – siendo
  6. Tener – to have – teniendo
  7. Saber – to know – sabiendo
  8. Poner – to put – poniendo
  9. Correr – to run – corriendo
  10. Querer – to want – queriendo
  11. Beberto drink – bebiendo

-ir Verbs

  1. Abrir – to open – abriendo
  2. Salir – to leave, to go out – saliendo
  3. Vivir – to live – viviendo
  4. Reirto laugh – riendo
  5. Sonreirto smile – sonriendo
  6. Escribirto write – escribiendo

Irregular Spanish Gerunds

Naturally, a few exceptions to the rule exist.

Verbs that end in two consecutive vowels use -yendo to form the gerund. For example:

  • Caer – to fall – cayendo
  • Creer – to believe – creyendo
  • Leer – to read – leyendo
  • Oír – to hear – oyendo
  • Traer – to bring – trayendo

Gerund stem-changers don’t follow the rules, and you simply have to memorize them. Notice they are usually -ir verbs. For example:

  • Decir – to say – diciendo
  • Dormir – to sleep – durmiendo
  • Morir – to die – muriendo
  • Pedir – to request – pidiendo
  • Sentir – to feel – sintiendo
  • Vestir to dress, to wear – vistiendo
  • Mentirto lie – mintiendo

Reflexive Spanish Gerunds

You join the reflexive pronoun onto the end Spanish gerunds, unless the gerund follows another verb.

Acostándose temprano, se descansa mejor.
By going to bed early, you feel more rested.

When the gerund follows another verb, you can put the reflexive pronoun either at the end of the infinitive or gerund or before the other verb.

Está despertándose.
Se está despertando.
She’s waking up.

¿Estás duchándote?
¿Te estás duchando?
Are you taking a shower?

Están arreglándose para salir.
Se están arreglando para salir.
They are getting ready to go out.

Spanish Gerunds Practice

Practice your newfound knowledge of Spanish gerunds with the following exercises! Check your accuracy using the answer key at the bottom.

Exercise 1

Form the gerund of the following verbs.

1. ver

2. traer

3. buscar

4. oír

5. sonreír

6. pedir

7. leer

8. caer

9. pensar

10. tomar

Exercise 2

Read the sentence and fill in the blank with the correct conjugation of estar + the gerund of the verb in parenthesis.

1. El hombre ____________(comer) una pizza.

2. Tú _________ (mirar) el paisaje.

3. Los niños __________ (correr) en el parquecito.

4. Yo __________ (escribir) un libro interesante.

5. Mi abuela ________ (dormir) en su habitación.

6. Tú ___________ (esperar) el tren.

7. ¿ Qué _____________ (hacer/tú)?

8. Mi hija ___________ (limpiar) la casa.

9. ______________ (mandar/yo) un regalo para ti.

10. El coro ___________ (cantar) una bella canción.

Exercise 3

Rewrite the sentences, replacing each underlined section with a gerund. Maintain the order of sentence elements.

1. Al ver la televisión, bebo un café.

2. Al cruzar la calle, nos encontramos a mi tía.

3. Al ir de excursión, hemos conocido muchos pueblos.

4. El tren tuvo un accidente al salir de la estación.

5. No podía concentrarme con la vecina que cantaba.

Exercise 4

Translate the sentences with reflexive gerunds into English.

1. Me estoy cepillando los dientes.

2. Juan está cepillándose los dientes.

3. Estás lavándote las manos.

4. Ella está enojándose.

5. Ana se está quejando.

Click here to check the answer key of these exercises.

Start Practicing Today!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our ultimate guide to Spanish gerunds and progressive tenses! Consider bookmarking it for easy access and regular review.

While studying these rules will enhance your grammar skills, nothing can replace taking Spanish classes with a native speaker to move you toward proficiency and fluency. Our certified teachers at Homeschool Spanish Academy are experts at working with students of all levels. Try a free class today and see for yourself how quickly you’ll be speaking Spanish like a pro!

Ready to learn more Spanish grammar? Check these out!

  • Dejar vs Salir in Spanish (Plus: Parar, Quedar, and Permitir)
  • 38 Regular -IR and -ER Verbs in Spanish You Can Master Today
  • ‘Haber De’ vs ‘Haber Que’ in Spanish: What’s the Difference?
  • A Simple Guide to Possessive Adjectives in Spanish
  • What Does ‘Mande’ Mean in Spanish?
  • A Massive List of Spanish Adjectives and How To Use Them
  • What are Spanish ‘Go Verbs’?
  • 28 Spanish Suffixes To Boost Your Fluency to Super-Human Status

Answer Key

Exercise 1: 1) viendo; 2) trayendo; 3) buscando; 4) oyendo; 5) sonriendo; 6) pidiendo; 7) leyendo; 8) cayendo; 9) pensando; 10) tomando

Exercise 2: 1) está comiendo; 2) estás mirando; 3) están corriendo; 4) estoy escribiendo;

5) está durmiendo; 6) estás esperando; 7) estás haciendo; 8) está limpiando; 9) estoy mandando; 10) está cantando

Exercise 3: 1) Viendo la televisión, bebo un café. 2) Cruzando la calle, nos encontramos a mi tía. 3) Yendo de excursión, hemos conocido muchos pueblos. 4) El tren tuvo un accidente saliendo de la estación. 5) No podía concentrarme con la vecina cantando.
Exercise 4: 1) I am brushing my teeth. 2) Juan is brushing his teeth. 3) You are washing your hands. 4) She is getting angry. 5) Ana is complaining.

  • Author
  • Recent Posts

Follow on FB

Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Editor & Writer at Homeschool Spanish Academy

Michelle Margaret Fajkus is a bilingual writer and longtime yoga teacher. A former advertising copywriter turned bilingual elementary school teacher, she is now a freelance writer, editor and translator. A native Texan, Michelle has Mexican roots and learned Spanish in middle and high school. She has become more fluent thanks to living as an expat in Guatemala. She lives with her family on beautiful Lake Atitlan.

Follow on FB

Latest posts by Michelle Margaret Fajkus (see all)

  • 10 Differences in Latin Culture Compared to U.S. Culture - November 21, 2022
  • How to Say ‘Sentence’ in Spanish: 5 Useful Synonyms - November 8, 2022
  • What are Spanish ‘Go Verbs’? - October 21, 2022

grammar spanish grammar

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kelle Weber

Last Updated: 12/01/2022

Views: 6604

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (53 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kelle Weber

Birthday: 2000-08-05

Address: 6796 Juan Square, Markfort, MN 58988

Phone: +8215934114615

Job: Hospitality Director

Hobby: tabletop games, Foreign language learning, Leather crafting, Horseback riding, Swimming, Knapping, Handball

Introduction: My name is Kelle Weber, I am a magnificent, enchanting, fair, joyous, light, determined, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.