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Monday, March 27, 2023

Progressive Tense Spanish and The right way to Use All 4 Kinds

yellow work in progress sign on wire fence

You may make your Spanish sentences extra participating with one little trick.

It’s really fairly simple. All you’ll want to do is use the progressive tense!

This tense helps you clarify one thing that was, is or shall be taking place (one thing “in progress”) in a extra expressive method.

Learn on to learn to use the Spanish progressive tense and enhance your Spanish sentences!


The Makes use of and Significance of the Spanish Progressive Tense

The progressive tense, each in English and Spanish, is the tense we use to explain actions that had been, are or shall be taking place sooner or later within the previous, current or future, respectively.

To be particular, in Spanish you should use…

  • the current progressive to explain actions which are happening in the meanwhile of talking.
  • the imperfect progressive to speak about actions that had been ongoing sooner or later prior to now.
  • the preterite progressive to debate ongoing previous actions which have since completed or come to an finish.
  • the future progressive to explain actions that shall be ongoing sooner or later sooner or later, or to hypothesize about what have to be taking place within the current.

Constructing the Progressive Tense in Spanish

Most significantly, you want the verb estar (to be) and a current participle, also referred to as a gerund and referred to as the gerundio in Spanish.

Studying the current participle of verbs is pretty simple, as a result of it by no means adjustments. Whether or not you’re speaking concerning the previous, the current or the longer term, its kind will at all times be precisely the identical.

To kind the gerundio, simply take a look at the ending of the infinitive. If the infinitive ends in -ar, change that ending with -ando:

Infinitive Current Participle
cantar cantando
llorar llorando
caminar caminando

And if the infinitive ends in -er or -ir, change the ending with -iendo:

Infinitive Current Participle
comer comiendo
correr corriendo
vivir viviendo
conducir conduciendo

The verb estar can also be fairly simple. Relying on the progressive tense you’re utilizing, you simply want to make use of the corresponding tense of estar.

Don’t fear—we’ll get into when to make use of every progressive tense subsequent! However for example, if you wish to use the current progressive tense, estar ought to be conjugated within the current tense, as such:

Spanish English
Yo estoy I’m
estás You might be
Él / Ella está He / She is
Nosotros estamos We’re
Vosotros estáis / Ustedes están You (all) are
Ellos / Ellas están They’re

So, if you happen to’re utilizing the imperfect progressive tense, estar ought to be conjugated in its imperfect kind; for the preterite progressive tense, conjugate estar within the preterite; and for the longer term progressive tense, estar ought to seem in its future kind.

In case you want the verb estar totally conjugated, simply use this useful information from 123TeachMe.

Now, let’s get into the 4 types of the Spanish progressive tense.

Spanish Current Progressive Tense

As I discussed earlier, the current progressive tense (typically referred to as the current steady) is used when speaking about actions which are taking place as you communicate.

The best characteristic of the current progressive is that it’s utilized in each English and Spanish in the very same approach and for the very same goal.

So the one factor you want with a purpose to grasp it’s the current tense of the verb estar and a gerund. For instance:

Estás regando las plantas. (You might be watering the crops.)

Alguien está llamando a la puerta. (Somebody is knocking on the door.)

Está nevando en Polonia. (It’s snowing in Poland.)

Other than describing issues which are taking place on the very second you’re talking, the current progressive can also be used to speak about broader actions which are ongoing within the current, however not essentially at this second.

As soon as once more, each English and Spanish share this characteristic. Listed here are some examples:

Este año estoy estudiando francés. (I’m finding out French this 12 months.)

Nos estamos quedando en un resort. (We’re staying in a resort.)

Estoy durmiendo solo esta semana. (I’m sleeping alone this week.)

Spanish Imperfect Progressive Tense

The imperfect progressive tense is principally used to explain actions that had been ongoing sooner or later prior to now.

Once more, each English and Spanish use the imperfect progressive tense in the identical style. The principle distinction is that in English, you will have an auxiliary verb conjugated within the easy previous tense, whereas in Spanish the auxiliary verb is conjugated within the imperfect tense.

To this Spanish imperfect auxiliary verb we add a gift participle, which, as talked about above, doesn’t change.

The Spanish imperfect progressive is utilized in two particular contexts. First, we use it when speaking about actions that had been ongoing prior to now.

Keep in mind that it’s not necessary if these actions had been really accomplished (or not) and when. You’re referring to them once they had been in course of; they lasted for a while, and that’s what issues right here.

For instance:

Estaba cantando su canción favorita. (He was singing his favourite music.)

Me estaba bañando cuando llegó. (I used to be having a shower when he arrived.)

El bebé me estaba mirando a mí, no a su madre. (The newborn was taking a look at me, not at his mom.)

(Observe that within the English imperfect progressive tense, you employ the previous easy of “to be”—the phrase “was.”)

The second use of the Spanish imperfect progressive is describing broader actions that had been ongoing prior to now, usually throughout a time frame longer than just some minutes or perhaps a few hours.

So, you wouldn’t use it to explain taking a shower or singing a music, however one thing greater. Take a look:

Ese año yo estaba estudiando polaco. (I used to be studying Polish that 12 months).

You clearly weren’t finding out Polish for one year with no break—the state of affairs was ongoing as a result of it occurred all year long, however there was not a single, particular second once you studied (there have been many).

Listed here are some extra examples:

En 2005 María estaba viviendo en Barcelona. (In 2005 María was residing in Barcelona.)

Estaba nevando mucho para ser primavera. (It was snowing so much contemplating it was spring.)

Mis vecinos se estaban poniendo muy nerviosos. (My neighbors had been getting very nervous.)

Spanish Preterite Progressive Tense

The preterite progressive tense is used for an ongoing previous motion that has completed, stopped or come to an finish.

There isn’t a equal tense in English, as a result of English has just one previous progressive tense, as talked about above. Spanish, then again, has two.

In case you’re studying the preterite progressive tense, I assume you already know what the preterite is and the distinction between the imperfect and the preterite tenses.

Right here’s a fast evaluate: In Spanish, each the imperfect and the preterite are used when speaking about actions that occurred prior to now. The massive distinction is that the imperfect is used for an ongoing motion prior to now, whereas the preterite is used to obviously categorical {that a} previous motion ended.

The next examples will assist you out:

Mi hermana cocinaba mientras yo quitaba el polvo. (My sister was cooking whereas I used to be dusting [ongoing actions].)

La película terminó a las 7. (The film ended at 7 pm [completed action].)

Now, when utilizing the preterite progressive tense, the exercise we’re describing got here to an finish in the meanwhile we’re referring to or earlier than, however by no means after.

I do know, I do know. I get questions from my college students at this level, which is pure. Listed here are some solutions:

  • Sure, we’re coping with the progressive tense, which implies the motion of the verb have to be ongoing.
  • Sure, we translate each the Spanish imperfect and preterite progressive tenses because the previous steady in English.
  • No, they’re actually not the identical, and also you actually can’t use them interchangeably in Spanish.

The most important factor to remember is that the imperfect progressive emphasizes the continuing nature of a previous motion, whereas the preterite progressive emphasizes that an ongoing previous motion ended.

Take this instance:

Estuve cantando toda la mañana. (I used to be singing the entire morning.)

We now have a transparent finish to the motion—the morning ended after which the afternoon started. It doesn’t matter what number of hours I used to be singing, the place I used to be or what I did precisely throughout these hours. I sang, I completed singing. Preterite.

You’ll be able to’t use the imperfect with that sentence as a result of toda la mañana marks an finish. When you have an finish, you can’t use the imperfect.

So let’s evaluate the 2:

Estuvimos limpiando de las 9 a las 11. (We had been cleansing from 9 am to 11 am.)

Estábamos limpiando cuando sonó el teléfono. (We had been cleansing when the phone rang.)

Within the first sentence, we had been cleansing for 2 hours (progressive), however we completed at 11 am. The motion was accomplished—preterite.

Within the second sentence, you don’t know once we began, once we completed or if we even did end cleansing. You solely know that we had been in the course of an ongoing motion when one thing else occurred—imperfect.

Spanish Future Progressive Tense

The longer term progressive tense is our technique to say one thing shall be taking place sooner or later sooner or later.

This tense (also referred to as the longer term steady) could be very related in Spanish and English. In English you employ the development “shall be” plus the current participle of the principle verb, whereas in Spanish you employ the longer term easy of estar plus the gerundio.

There are two conditions the place you’ll use the longer term progressive tense in Spanish. The primary one is identical as in English. You utilize the longer term progressive to say that one thing shall be taking place or ongoing sooner or later.

For instance:

Mañana a las 6 ya estaré desayunando. (I’ll already be having breakfast tomorrow at 6 am.)

Estaremos viviendo en África en un año. (We shall be residing in Africa in a 12 months.)

A esta hora mañana estarán llegando a casa. (This time tomorrow they are going to be arriving house.)

The second use of the longer term progressive solely seems in Spanish. You’ll use this tense to hypothesize about what have to be taking place within the current.

Discover that these hypotheses can at all times be translated in English as “have to be” plus a gift participle:

Estará llegando ahora. (He have to be arriving now.)

Estarán estudiando. (They have to be finding out.)

Me estaré volviendo loco. (I have to be going loopy.)

Bonus: Current Easy and Imperfect as Progressive Tenses

Shock, there’s extra!

You could already know that Spanish audio system love utilizing the current easy tense. So it’s necessary to notice that you may additionally use this tense with a gift progressive which means (i.e. for actions which are going down in the meanwhile of talking).

For a local Spanish speaker, there isn’t any distinction in which means between a sentence constructed within the current steady and one constructed within the current easy.

Take a look (progressive first, current easy beneath):

¿Qué está pasando? (What is occurring?)
¿Qué pasa? (What is occurring?)

Estoy yendo a la escuela. (I’m going to high school.)
Voy a la escuela. (I’m going to high school.)

¿Qué estás haciendo? (What are you doing?)
¿Qué haces? (What are you doing?)

The identical occurs when utilizing the imperfect progressive and the imperfect. To check with actions that had been happening sooner or later prior to now, you may technically select whichever kind you want essentially the most:

Iba caminando cuando ocurrió el accidente. (He was strolling when the accident occurred.)
Caminaba cuando ocurrió el accidente. (He was strolling when the accident occurred.)

¿Qué estabas haciendo cuando te llamé? (What had been you doing once I referred to as you?)
¿Qué hacías cuando te llamé? (What had been you doing once I referred to as you?)

El niño estaba jugando en el parque. (The boy was taking part in within the park.)
El niño jugaba en el parque. (The boy was taking part in within the park.)

Sound complicated? Don’t have any concern! You will get the dangle of the progressive tense (even in its “easy” kind) with observe by studying and listening to native Spanish audio system.

For instance, you may learn Spanish novels or blogs to see how natives use the progressive tense inside a narrative. Or you may watch some Spanish TV reveals or films to listen to the progressive tense utilized in dialog.

To observe each directly, you may attempt a program designed specifically for language learners, corresponding to FluentU. With FluentU, you may watch genuine Spanish movies with built-in instruments like interactive subtitles, flashcards and customized quizzes, all obtainable in app kind as effectively (iOS and Android).

And when you’ve learn or listened to natives, attempt utilizing the Spanish progressive tense whereas talking with them, too!


Now you will have all the required instruments to debate ongoing actions at any time limit (and inform extra participating tales within the course of).

Time to get on the market and see what’s taking place!

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