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SPANISH PROGRESSIVE

OR CONTINUOUS (LA FORMA PROGRESIVA)

General Introduction

The spanish progressive tense is used to indicate when an action is in progress, hence its name!. The grammar that follows is easy and quick to learn and will give you a powerful tool to use in many situations.

The spanish progressive is formed by using the present tense of ESTAR followed by the present participle, formed with the endings: -ando; and -iendo for regular verbs ending in -ar; and er or ir. It is used when the action is in progress now, but likely to finish soon, or likely to continue for some time.

Rafael está cocinando la cena - Rafael is cooking the dinner

Yo está estudiando Español - I am studying Spanish

The Spanish don't actually use the present spanish progressive quite as much as the English, preferring to just use the simple present tense. However the English form of this is often the present progressive. Also if you are not sure of the conjugation of the spanish verb, you are more likely to know its infinitive and the conjugation of estar.

Llevo a los niños al cine - I am taking the children to the cinema

Other Spanish Progressive Tenses

The preterite, imperfect and conditional tenses all often take the progressive form just by using the appropriate conjugation of estar together with the participle. Again the alternative would be to use the appropriate conjugation of the verb in question.

Estuvimos jugando golf la semana pasada - We were playing golf last week - Jugamos golf la semana pasada

El hombre estaba construyendo una casa - The man was building a house - El hombre construía una casa

Estaría comiendo - She could have been eating - Comería

Motion verbs with the Progressive

The spanish progressive is also used with verbs of motion such as: ir, venir and andar, and also with the verbs continuar and seguir. Basically in instances when you want to emphasize that actions are still continuing, the progressive is used.

Continuan jugando futbol - They continue playing football

Seguimos construyendo la casa - We are still building the house

Voy buscando mis amigos - I am looking for my friend

These examples can also be used in other tenses:-

Iré corriendo en las montañas - I will go running in the mountains

Juan andaba reuniendo a su hermana - Juan was meeting his sister

The positioning of pronouns with the present participle

Normally reflexive pronouns are positioned before the conjugated part of the verb. However, in the spanish progressive they can also be attached to the end of the present participle.

The two forms are:-

El hombre no se está afeitando OR El hombre no está afeitandose - the man is shaving

The forms are exactly the same for the indirect object

Estas buscandolo OR Lo estas buscando - Are you looking for it

Other uses of the present participle in Spanish

  • It can be used as a simple present participle

Cruzando el río grande, los exploradores alcanzaron a seguridad - Crossing the large river, the explorers reached safety

  • The infinitive and not the present participle is used when acting as a noun

Nadar es bueno para la salud - Swimming is good for your health

  • After prepositions, always use the infinitive

A pesar de correr una maraton, el atleta no era cansado - In spite of running a marathon, the athlete wasn't tired

  • The infinitive preceded by 'al' is equivalent to 'upon' + the present participle

Al ver el enemigo, los saldados preparon para la batalla - Upon seeing the enemy, the soldiers prepared for battle.

So this covers the major points connected with the spanish progressive tenses and their usage. Take note how many times it is used in the Spanish you hear and read, and you will be surprised just how popular it is!

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