Spanish Grammar


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Spanish Grammar A1 ⮟
Ser and Estar in Spanish for Beginners
Está and Hay in Spanish to Express Location
The Present Indicative in Spanish
The verb querer in Spanish: how to use it
The Verb Gustar in Spanish
Demonstratives in Spanish and Adverbs of Place
Possessive Adjectives in Spanish
The Present Continuous in Spanish: Estar + Gerund
The Gerund in Spanish: Form and Basic Uses
Expressions of Quantity in Spanish: Muy and Mucho
Spanish Grammar A2 ⮟
Present Perfect Indicative in Spanish
The Past Simple in Spanish
The Preterite Imperfect Indicative in Spanish
Indicative past tenses in Spanish
How to Express Future in Spanish
How to use por and para in Spanish
Possessive Pronouns in Spanish
Comparative Adjectives in Spanish
Ya in Spanish: Meaning and Usage
Subject Personal Pronouns in Spanish
Expressing Obligation in Spanish
Spanish Grammar B1 ⮟
The Pluperfect Indicative in Spanish
The Future Simple in Spanish
The Conditional Simple in Spanish
The imperative mood in Spanish
The present subjunctive in Spanish
Verbal Periphrasis in Spanish
General Rules of Accentuation in Spanish
Expressing Wishes with the Subjunctive in Spanish
The Use of Cuando with Indicative and Subjunctive
Position of Object Pronouns in Spanish
Spanish Grammar B2 ⮟
Advanced Uses of Conditional Simple
The Future Perfect in Spanish
The Conditional Perfect in Spanish
Present Perfect Subjunctive in Spanish
How do I use the past imperfect subjunctive?
The Pluperfect Subjunctive in Spanish
How to express probability in Spanish
Conditional Clauses in Spanish
Verbs of Change in Spanish
Reported Speech in Spanish
Spanish Grammar C1 ⮟
The passive Voice in Spanish
Adverbial Clauses of Manner in Spanish
Adverbial Clauses of Cause in Spanish
Clauses of Purpose in Spanish
Conditional Conjunctions in Spanish
Uses of the Pronoun SE with Syntactic Function
Uses of the Pronoun Se as a Verb Mark
The Indeterminate Feminine in Spanish

The Present Continuous in Spanish: Estar + Gerund

The present continuous in Spanish (or present progressive) is not considered a verb tense in most Spanish grammars. In fact, according to specialists, it is a verbal periphrasis, that is, a group of words that work as a single verb. At A1 level it is too early to study these constructions. However, if you are curious to learn more, here you’ll find an article about verbal periphrases in Spanish.

Despite what was said above, we are going to use the term “the present continuous in Spanish” in this article to make it more familiar to speakers of other languages.

The form estar + gerund expresses an action that is in process at the moment of speech. But before going deeper into the uses of this construction, let’s see how the present continuous in Spanish in Spanish.



How Do We Form the Present Continuous in Spanish?

To form this periphrasis we must conjugate the present indicative of the verb estar and the gerund of another verb. The form of the verb estar gives us the information of the person, the number and the verb tense; on the other hand, the gerund of the other verb gives us the semantic meaning and the sense of “continuous action”.

The Gerund in Spanish

The gerund of Spanish verbs is formed by adding to the stem of a verb the endings –ando (verbs in –ar) and –iendo (verbs in -er / -ir).

Conjugation of the gerund forms of the regular verbs in Spanish

However, there are also irregular gerunds in Spanish. You can consult this article if you want to know more about gerunds and their exceptions.

Conjugation for the Present Continuous in Spanish

Therefore, the conjugation for the present continuous in Spanish would be like this:

Conjugation of the present continuous in Spanish with estar + gerund

Placement of Pronouns in Reflexive Verbs

When we use reflexive verbs, we must take into account the order of placement of the pronouns. With the present continuous in Spanish we have two options:

  1. We can place the pronouns immediately before the verb estar.

Ahora no puedo abrir la puerta porque me estoy duchando.

  1. It is possible to place the pronouns together with the gerund, forming a single word. When this happens, the verb always has a tilde.

Ahora no puedo abrir la puerta porque estoy duchándome.

When Is Estar + Gerund used?

Let’s analyze the main uses of this verb periphrasis:

1. Action at the moment of speech

As we said before, the present continuous in Spanish is mainly used to express an action that takes place at the same moment we are speaking. We must, therefore, differentiate it from the present indicative, which expresses a habitual action.

¡Mira! Esos hombres están cantando en la calle = present continuous

Yo nunca canto en la calle = present indicative

We often use time expressions or other forms that make this difference clear. For example: ahora, ahora mismo, ¡mira!, en este momento…

2. Action in an active time period

Despite what was explained above, it is possible to use estar + gerund for an action, which, although it does not take place at this very moment, the speaker considers the time period to be active:

Tengo que comprar unos libros porque estoy estudiando en la universidad.

The speaker does not mean that he is studying right now, but this action does take place in an active period of his life.

3. Repetitive action

Although we generally use the present indicative to talk about habits, it is possible to use the present continuous in Spanish to emphasize a repeated habit:

Siempre estás pidiéndome dinero.

4. It does not express future

A common mistake among English speakers is the use of estar + gerund to talk about a future plan or intention. Although it is correct in other languages, Spanish has other options to express this concept. For example, the periphrasis ir + a + infinitive or the present indicative, if it is a very certain plan. Therefore, do not use estar + gerund with future value.

Mañana estoy viajando a Madrid para hacer el examen DELE.

Mañana voy a viajar / viajo a Madrid para hacer el examen DELE.

If you want to practice the present continuous in Spanish, don’t hesitate to reserve a class on; estamos esperándote (we are waiting for you).

Infographics about the present continuous in Spanish (Estar + gerund)