Spanish Present Progressive Tense

Written by tutor Madina D.

The Present Progressive in Spanish is formed with a conjugated form of the verb “Estar” (to be) and the Present Participle.

What does this mean?

Estar (conjugated, ex: Estoy) + Present Participle (ex: bailando) = I am dancing (Present Progressive.)

How do I conjugate “Estar” (to be)? It is an IRREGULAR verb, so it’s conjugation (see chart below) must be memorized.

Estar - to be

Yo - I Estoy Nosotros - we Estamos
  I am   We are
- You Estás Vosotros - you all Estáis
  You are (Used in Spain) You all are
Él - He Está Ellos* - They Están
Ella - She (He is, She is)      Ellas - They (They are)
Usted* - You (You are) Ustedes - You (You all are)

* “Usted” and “Tú” both mean “you”, but “usted” is used either with someone older, someone you may not know well, or to show respect.

* “Ellos” – could be all guys or a mixed group of guys and girls. “Ellas” refers to a group with only girls.

Present Participles

Present participles are very easy to form.

AR Verbs

For “ar” verbs (verbs that end in “ar), such as:
Bailar to dance
Cantar to sing
Trabajar to work

You simple take off the “ar” ending and add “ando”.

Bailar >
Bail >
Bail + ando >

Cantar’s present participle would be: Cantando

Trabajar > Trabajando (present participle)


Tú estás bailando.
(You are dancing) << Spanish won’t always translate to English so nicely, but when it does, you’re in luck.

Ellos están cantando.
(They are singing.)

Nosotros estamos trabajando.
(We are working.)

[DO NOT USE “SER” to be (soy, eres, es, somos, sois, son) to form the “Present Progressive”. ]

ER / IR Verbs

For “er” and “ir” verbs (verbs that end in “er” and “ir”), the Present Participle ending is “iendo”.

Thus, for the following “er” and “ir” verbs,

Comer to eat
Beber to drink
Escribir to write

Take off the ending (“er” / “ir”) and add “iendo”.

Comer > Comer > Com > Comiendo
Beber > Beber > Beb > Bebiendo
Escribir > Escribir > Escrib > Escribiendo


Ellas están comiendo arroz.
(They are eating rice)

Nosotros estamos comiendo frijoles.
(We are eating beans.)

Tú estás escribiendo una carta.
(You are writing a letter.)

Irregular Present Participles

There are not an excessive amount of irregular Present Participles, but they do exist. The following are a few irregular Present Participles.

Common irregular present participles are:

Decir - to say or tell diciendo
Dormir - to sleep durmiendo
Pedir - to request/ask for pidiendo
Leer - to read leyendo

A few more irregular Present Participles are: (You can memorize the ones that you feel will be relevant for your current language level.)

conseguir (to get/achieve/obtain) consiguiendo
convertir (to turn into, change) convirtiendo
mentir (to lie/to tell lies) mintiendo
repetir (to repeat) repitiendo
seguir (to follow) siguiendo
servir (to serve) sirviendo
sugerir (to suggest) sugiriendo
venir (to come) viniendo
poder (to be able to) pudiendo
morir (to die) muriendo
caer (to fall) cayendo
creer (to believe) creyendo
traer (to bring) trayendo
construir (to construct) construyendo
contribuir (to contribute) contribuyendo
destruir (to destroy) destruyendo
huir (to flee) huyendo
incluir (to include) incluyendo
oír (to hear) oyendo

Present Progressive and Present Participle Quiz

What would the Present Participle be for “estudiar” (to study)?

A. estudando
B. estudiando
C. estudiendo
D. estudio
The correct answer here would be B.

What would the Present Participle be for “comprar” (to buy)?

A. compraste
B. compraando
C. compriendo
D. comprando
The correct answer here would be D.

What would the Present Participle be for “decidir” (to decide)?

A. decidando
B. decidiendo
C. decido
D. decidido
The correct answer here would be B.

Should I use “Ser” to form the Present Progressive?

A. Yes
B. No
The correct answer here would be B.

Is the following correct: “Soy bailando”?

A. Yes
B. No
The correct answer here would be B.
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