The present progressive is a verb conjugation in the Spanish language that refers to verbs in the present tense, progressive aspect, indicative mood, and active voice. Similar to in English, the present progressive in Spanish can be defined as a verb form that expresses an incomplete or ongoing action or state that began in the past and continues in the present and presumably into the future. The following sections explain the formation of the present progressive in Spanish as well as the use of Spanish verbs in the present progressive that Spanish language learners must understand and master.
Formation of the Spanish Present Progressive
Unlike the majority of verb forms in the Spanish language, the present progressive is periphrastic. Periphrasis means that a “phrase of two or more words that perform a single grammatical function that would otherwise be expressed by the inflection of a single word.” Verbs in the present progressive in Spanish are formed by a present tense form of the verb estar “to be” followed by a present participle. The verb phrase patterns for the Spanish present progressive are as follows:
- first person singular – estoy + present participle – Yo estoy estudiando.
- second person singular – estás + present participle – Tú estás trabajando.
- third person singular – está + present participle – Él está bailando.
- first person plural – estamos + present participle – Nosotros estamos viajando.
- second person plural – estáis + present participle – Vosotros estáis comiendo.
- third person plural – están + present participle – Ustedes están leyendo.
Notice that the verb estar “to be” is regular in the present tense in all persons and numbers except for the first person singular form.
Use of the Spanish Present Progressive
The use of the present progressive in Spanish differs slightly from the use of the present progressive in English. Spanish verbs in the present progressive most often occur in sentences that express current actions or states in progress right now at this very moment. For example:
Mi hermano está estudiando. “My brother is studying.”
- Estoy hablando. “I am speaking.”
- Jaun y María están escribiendo una carta. “Jaun and Maria are writing a letter.”
- Estamos corriendo. “We are running.”
- ¿Estás comprando unos calcetínes? “Are you buying some socks?
- Me estoy sintiendo triste. “I am feeling sad.”
- Los niños están durmiendo ahora. “The children are sleeping now.”
- El professor está viniendo pronto. “The professor is coming soon.”
Unlike in English, the present progressive in Spanish is not used to describe actions happening in the near future.
The present progressive expresses incomplete or ongoing actions or states that began in the past and continue in the present and presumably into the future.
Note: I have studied Spanish as a foreign language. Please feel free to correct any mistakes that I have made in my Spanish.
Ramboz, Ina. 2008. Spanish verbs & essentials of grammar (Verbs and Essentials of Grammar Series), 2nd edn. New York: McGraw-Hill.