Spanish Present Progressive – Conjugation and Use

Spanish Present Progressive, Title of the Grammar Lesson

The Spanish Present Progressive or Present Continuous (“Presente Progresivo”, “Presente Continuo”) is a verb tense in Spanish. We use to communicate what is happening right now, at the moment. It is equivalent to the English “I am eating… she is drinking… we are driving… etc”.

Conjugating verbs in Present Progressive is very easy, by combining the verb “estar” with the Gerund of a given verb.

In this post we will learn both its conjugation and how to use it in sentences, going through the following points:

1. Forming the Spanish Present Progressive – “Estar” + Gerundio

The formula to construct the Present Progressive consists of 2 words:

  • The first word is the verb “estar” conjugated in Present Tense for the proper person (“estoy, estás, está, estamos, estáis, están”)
  • The second word is the Gerundio (or Gerund) of the main verb which expresses the action. It is the same for all persons.

Remember… The Gerundio of a verb is usually formed with the ending “-ANDO” for verbs whose infinitive ends in “-AR”, and “-IENDO” for verbs ending in “-ER, -IR”). There are also a few Irregular Gerundios. Click here to learn more about the Gerundio and its Irregularities. 

With that formula in mind, here is a table with three verbs fully conjugated in Present Progressive. These particular verbs have a Regular Gerundio:

 HablarBeberPartir
yoestoy hablandoestoy bebiendoestoy partiendo
estás hablandoestás bebiendoestás partiendo
élestá hablandoestá bebiendoestá partiendo
nosotrosestamos hablandoestamos bebiendoestamos partiendo
vosotrosestáis hablandoestáis bebiendoestáis partiendo
ellosestán hablandoestán bebiendoestán partiendo

And here are a couple more verbs conjugated in Present Progressive. In this case, they have an Irregular Gerundio:

 DormirLeer
yoestoy durmiendoestoy leyendo
estás durmiendoestás leyendo
élestá durmiendoestá leyendo
nosotrosestamos durmiendoestamos leyendo
vosotrosestáis durmiendoestáis leyendo
ellosestán durmiendoestán leyendo

2. Use of The Present Progressive in Sentences

We use the Present Progressive to communicate what is happening right now, at the moment. For example, what people are doing.

Examples Sentences:

¿Qué estás haciendo?
What are you doing?

No me molestes, ¡estoy estudiando!
Don’t bother me, I’m studying!

Ahora estamos jugando al Fortnite.
Now we are playing playing Fortnite.

Mis padres no están en casa ahora mismo. Están trabajando.
My parents are not home right now. They are working.

Está lloviendo.
It’s raining.

If we want to construct a negative sentence, place the “no” before the 2 words that form the Present Progressive (never between them):

Vosotros no estáis durmiendo.
You guys are not sleeping.

No está nevando.
It’s not snowing.


3. Frequent Keywords and Phrases with the Present Progressive

Here are examples of keywords and phrases that work well with the Present Progressive:

  • Ahora = now
  • Ahora mismo = right now
  • En este momento = at the moment
  • Actualmente = currently

And some example sentences including keywords:

¿Estás trabajando ahora?
Are you working now?

Ahora mismo estoy escuchando música.
I’m listening to music right now.

Mis sobrinos están llegando en este momento.
My nephews are arriving at the moment.

Actualmente estamos desarrollando una nueva teoría.
We are currently developing a new theory.


4. Difference Between the Present Tense and the Present Progressive

Both of these tenses are used to talk about the Present, but they are different:

  • We use the Present Tense to talk about habitual actions and events, and also to state facts.
  • We use the Present Progressive to talk about what is happening at the moment, right now.

Check out the difference between these two sentences:

María duerme ocho horas cada noche.
María sleeps eight hours every night. (Present Tense)

María está durmiendo ahora.
María is sleeping now. (Present Progressive).


5. Practice: A Quiz

Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge about the Spanish Present Progressive!


6. Practice: An Exercise

What are the people in this picture doing? Fill the gaps in your mind or on a piece of paper using the Present Progressive, and check the solutions at the end of this post.

¿Qué _____ ________ 1.(hacer) estas personas?

A family in the park, to illustrate the exercise about the Spanish Present Progressive

La madre _____ ________ 2.(leer) un cuento.

La niña _____ ________ 3.(escuchar) el cuento que su madre ____ ________ 4.(leer).

El niño y su padre ____ ________ 5.(jugar).

Ah… y el pájaro ____ _________ 6.(volar)

Solutions to the Exercise: 1 = están haciendo, 2 = está leyendo, 3 = está escuchando, 4 = está leyendo, 5 = están jugando, 6 = está volando