What Are You Doing? Master the Present Progressive

What are you doing right now? Are you reading about Spanish? Are you thinking about studying abroad? There are different ways that we can describe the grammatical present, and one of those ways is the present progressive. In English, it’s when we use “-ing”. If you want to start practicing this common grammatical structure, check out our explanation below.

What is the present progressive?

Simply put, the present progressive is how to describe what someone is doing at the moment of speaking. This is a little different than in English where I could say, “I’m working on a project” but I’m not actually working on it at that exact moment. In Spanish, you would use this tense for what you’re doing right now. In addition, you could use it for anything someone does habitually. Let’s take a look at some examples:

Estoy escribiendo un artículo. I’m writing an article.

Él siempre está trabajando mucho. He’s always working a lot.

In the first example, you can see it’s describing what someone is doing right now, at this very moment. In the second, you can see what someone does habitually.

Forming sentences

Do you notice any patterns in the two sentences above? In order to form the present progressive, you need two things: a form of estar and a participle. Let’s look at the verb estar first. Here are its 6 forms, in case you need a refresher:

  • yo estoy
  • estás
  • él / ella / usted está
  • nosotros estamos
  • vosotros estáis
  • ellos / ellas / ustedes están

Next, we need a present participle, which is a verb that ends in -ando or -iendo. In order to form these verbs, you take off the ending and add –ando for -ar verbs and -iendo for -er and -ir verbs. For example, the present participle of hablar is hablando. Comer becomes comiendo and vivir becomes viviendo.

Now, let’s put them together! Use a form of estar, then a present participle of a verb. Check out these examples below:

  • Estoy haciendo la tarea. I’m doing homework.
  • Estás cocinando en la cocina. You’re cooking in the kitchen.
  • Ella está jugando. She is playing.
  • Estamos caminando en el parque. We are walking in the park.
  • Estáis bebiendo café. You’re all drinking coffee.
  • Ellos están abriendo las ventanas. They are opening the windows.

Practice using this tense with your friends and classmates to start narrating what you’re doing. Before long, you’ll be experts!

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