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06.10 Lesson 6I: Verbs: The Present Progressive Form (Spanish I)

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Lesson 6I
Verbs: The Present Progressive Form !!

[A copy of this lesson is available in a PDF file!! If you prefer to use this type of document, just click on the following link to complete this lesson: SpI_Lesson6I]


           In this lesson we’re going to discuss the “present progressive form” of verbs. So far, we have mainly focused on verb conjugations in the “present tense”, things that are happening at the present time. In Quarter 2, lessons 3D (Regular “AR” Verbs) and 3H (Regular “ER/IR” Verbs), we learned about Spanish regular verbs. (You may need to go back to these lessons to review!!) Look closely … the present tense of the verb “hablar” in the “yo” form is “Yo hablo”. There are two ways to translate this phrase into English, either “I speak/talk” or “I am speaking/talking”. The second English translation is called “the present progressive form”!! We commonly use this form in English, but in Spanish, the present tense is usually used!!

           The “present progressive form” can be created in Spanish just as it is used in English. In English, this form consists of conjugating the verb “to be” + the “-ing” form of the main verb. In Spanish, the helping verb “estar” is conjugated, followed by the “present participle” of the verb, the form of the verb that typically ends in “ing” in English which usually ends in “ando or iendo” in Spanish. As in the example above, “I am speaking/talking”, can either be translated into Spanish with the present tense “Yo hablo” or with the present progressive “Yo estoy hablando”. Notice how the helping verb “estar” is conjugated for the “yo” form, “estoy”, followed by the verb “hablar” in its present participle (gerund – “ing” ending) form with an “ando” added to the stem of the verb, “habl + ando”.

           One of the common mistakes made by native English speakers when learning to speak Spanish is to overuse the progressive form!! The progressive tense is not as common in Spanish as in English. It is normally only used for special emphasis, otherwise the simple present tense of the verb is used!! It is used when an action is happening right now!! It is never used in Spanish for a future event!! In English, we might say “We are eating at seven tonight”, but this exact sentence with the present progressive form would NEVER be used in Spanish!! You could use the simple present tense to say “Comemos a las siete. – We are eating at seven” but NEVER!! “Estamos comiendo a las siete. We are eating at seven.” NEVER!! The present progressive form can only be used in Spanish if the action is actually happening at this very moment!!

           In creating the present progressive form, we must first conjugate the helping verb “estar” according to the subject!! (Since this is used to describe an action taking place at this moment, it is always considered to be temporary, so ONLY the verb “estar” (NEVER the verb “ser”) is used!!) Then, with most “AR” verbs, the ending “ando” is added to the verb stem. With most “ER/IR” verbs, the ending “iendo” is added to the verb stem. The following chart is a review of the “estar” conjugation, along with the present participle from of some common Spanish verbs:

           A great presentation of how to form and use the present progressive verb form in Spanish: I love these little clip where she starts by speaking some common Spanish sentences to introduce the topic being discussed!! Make sure you watch this beginning part again after viewing the clip, to see how many of the sentences you now understand!!! It might take three or four times … but you’ll get it!!