Lesson 14:
The Present Participle Gerund

The present participle Gerund

In English, it is called present participle verbs when using the ending “-ing”, but in Spanish the ending “-ing” depends on the ending of the verb, as follows:

Regular verbs:

Example:

Endings Example -ing
-ar = -ando Caminar = Caminando Walking
-er = -iendo Comer = Comiendo Eating
-ir = -iendo Vivir = Viviendo Living

Irregular Verbs:

These verbs use the ending -yendo, as well as all verbs ending in -uir:

Caer cayendo
Construir construyendo
Creer creyendo
Huir huyendo
Ir yendo
Leer leyendo
Oír oyendo
Traer trayendo

And we also have the verb “caber” as an irregular verb.

Example:

Caber Cupiendo

Regular Stem-Changing Verbs

e i

Decir diciendo
Mentir mintiendo
Repetir repitiendo
Sentir sintiendo
Venir viniendo

And all verbs ending in “-ir” that in the present tense change -e to -ie / -e to -i

o u

Dormir durmiendo
Morir muriendo
Poder pudiendo

Rules for using the present participle Gerund:

1. The present participle is used when a question and answer involves an action that is being developed at the time of the question.
Usually the questions are: ¿qué miras? and ¿qué haces? What are you looking at? And, What are you doing?

Example:

¿Qué miras?
What are you looking at?

Al hombre bailando en la sala.
At the man dancing in the room.

A los niños jugando en el parque.
At the boys playing in the park.

A mi mamá cocinando la cena.
At my mother cooking the dinner.

A mi papá trabajando en el jardín.
At my father working in the garden.

As you can see, all these responses imply action; so for that reason we use the present participle to answer the question. But remember that we use the present participle only when the action is in progress or developing at the time of the question.

Example:

¿Qué haces?
What are you doing?

Leyendo una novela interesante.
Reading an interesting novel.

Viendo la televisión.
Watching television.

Hablando con mi mamá por skype.
Talking to my mom on Skype.

Buscando información en internet.
Looking for information on the Internet.

2. We use the present participle as an adverb. Remember that the adverb is the word that describes another word. In this case it’s a verb describing another verb, since we’re talking about actions, and actions are represented by verbs.

Example:

El niño entró a la casa corriendo.
The child entered the house running.

La niña se despierta llorando todas las mañanas.
The girl wakes up crying every morning.

Los actores llegaron al teatro cantando de la felicidad.
The actors came to the theater singing of happiness.

In these examples you can see that a verb qualifies another verb, Example: in the first sentence the verb “correr” qualifies the verb “entrar”. We can ask the question ¿cómo entró el niño? and the answer is corriendo. Then: El niño entró a la casa corriendo.

3. The present participle is often the equivalent of by + present participle. It is used to express advice, a suggestion or a comment.

Example:

Trabajando, se gana dinero.
By working, one earns money.

Estudiando, aprendes mucho.
By studying, you learn a lot.

It’s almost the same construction in English and Spanish, with the difference being that in English, “by” before the present participle is sometimes used.

Example:

Trabajando mucho, el señor construyó su casa.
Working hard, the man built his house.

Mirando televisión, me dormí.
Watching television, I fell asleep.

Comiendo muchos dulces, engordarás muy rápido.
Eating lots of candy will make you gain weight very fast.

4. The present participle is also used to form progressive tenses. In Spanish they are: present
progressive, past progressive, future progressive and conditional progressive. To form these tenses we use the verb “estar” as auxiliary plus past participle. The auxiliary verb estar describes the person and the time, and the past participle describes the action verb.

Example:

Yo estoy estudiando español:
I am studying Spanish.

Ella está bailando.
She is dancing.

Tú estuviste durmiendo por dos horas.
You were sleeping for two hours.

To better understand these forms of tenses, we will study each one separately. We may also use the verbs “seguir” or “continuar” as auxiliaries instead of “estar” depending on the action and what you want to express.

Present Progressive

Use the verb “estar” in present tense + a present participle.

Yo estoy
Tú estás
Él/Ella/Usted está
Nosotros estamos
Ellos están
+
comiendo
bailando
estudiando


In English we use the present continuous to describe actions that are happening right now, and to describe actions that will happen in the future.

Example: I am eating now / I am eating with José tomorrow.

But in Spanish we use it only to describe the action that is happening right now, and progressively.

Example:

Nosotros estamos estudiando el participio presente ahora.
We are studying the present participle now.

Ellos están viendo la película en el cine.
They are watching the movie in the cinema.

Tú estás comiendo helado de chocolate ahora.
You’re eating chocolate ice cream now.

Past Progressive

Use the verb “estar” in preterit tense + a present participle.

Yo estuve
Tú estuviste
Él/Ella/Usted estuvo
Nosotros estuvimos
Ellos estuvieron
+
durmiendo
comiendo
hablando


In Spanish the past progressive describes the action in a definite time in the past in progressively, when the auxiliary verb uses the preterit.

Example:

El niño estuvo durmiendo por dos horas.
The child was sleeping for two hours.

Tú estuviste estudiando español por dos meses.
You were studying Spanish for two months.

Yo estuve haciendo la tarea durante toda la tarde.
I was doing homework all afternoon.

But also can use the verb “estar” in imperfect tense + a present participle.

Yo estaba
Tú estabas
Él/Ella/ Usted estaba
Nosotros estábamos
Ellos estaban
+
leyendo
escribiendo
haciendo


In Spanish the past progressive describes the development of an action when another action starts and interrupts or ends the developing action.

Example:

Yo estaba leyendo mi libro cuando mi papá entró a mi habitación.
I was reading my book when my dad came to my room.

Nosotros estábamos viendo la televisión cuando se fue la luz.
We were watching TV when the power went out.

Los niños estaban jugando en el parque cuando empezó a llover.
The children were playing in the park when it started to rain.

Future Progressive

Use the verb estar in future tense + a present participle.

Yo estaré
Tú estarás
Él/Ella /Usted estará
Nosotros estaremos
Ellos estarán
+
viajando
estudiando
visitando


Progressive future is used as follows:

Describes a continuous or progressive action in the future.

Example:

La próxima semana, ellos estarán viajando por Antigua.
Next week, they will be traveling by Antigua.

En dos semanas ya estaremos trabajando con ellos.
In two weeks we’ll be working with them.

Expresses a doubt present of an action in the present tense.

Example:

¿Quién estará tocando la puerta?
Who will be knocking on the door?

¿Con quién estará hablando Ana?
Who will Ana be talking to?

Conditional Progressive

Use the verb “estar” in conditional tense + a present participle.

Yo estaría
Tú estarías
Él/Ella /Usted estará
Nosotros estaríamos
Ellos estarían
+
descansando
haciendo
buscando


Conditional progressive is used as follows:

Describes a probability in the present that’s not realized.

Example:

Yo estaría estudiando pero tengo que trabajar.
I would be studying but I have to work.

Él estaría viajando con ellos pero está enfermo.
He would be traveling with them but he’s sick.