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Spanish Verbs: Forming Present Participles in Spanish

The present participle in Spanish is primarily used with the verb estar ‘to be’ to form the present progressive of Spanish verbs. Similar to the present participle in English, the Spanish present participle is formed by affixing a suffix to the stem of a verb. The following sections explain the formation of regular and irregular stem-changing verbs in Spanish as well as the slight spelling changes that some present participles experience.

Present Participles of Regular -ar Verbs

To form the present participle of a regular -ar verb, remove the -ar suffix from the end of the infinitive and affix the -ando suffix to the stem. For example:

  • Infinitive – Present Participle – English
  • bailar – bailando – dancing
  • cantar – cantado – singing
  • escuchar – escuchando – listening
  • estudiar – estudiando – studying
  • hablar – hablando – talking, speaking
  • jugar – jugando – playing
  • trabajar – trabajando – working
  • viajar – viajando – traveling

Present Participles of Regular -er and -ir Verbs

To form the present participle of a regular -er verb, remove the -er suffix from the end of the infinitive and affix the -iendo suffix to the stem. Notice that some Spanish verbs like tener ‘to have’ and hacer ‘to make, to do’ that are irregular in other conjugations are regular in the present participle. For example:

  • Infinitive – Present Participle – English
  • aprender – aprendiendo – learning
  • beber – bebiendo – drinking
  • comer – comiendo – eating
  • correr – corriendo – running
  • hacer – hacienda – making, doing
  • poner – poniendo – putting
  • tener – teniendo – having
  • vender – vendiendo – selling

To form the present participle of a regular -ir verb, remove the -ir suffix from the end of the infinitive and also affix the -iendo suffix to the stem. For example:

  • Infinitive – Present Participle – English
  • abrir – abriendo – opening
  • asistir – asistiendo – assisting
  • describir – describiendo – describing
  • discutir – discutiendo – discussing
  • escribir – escribiendo – writing
  • recibir – recibiendo – receiving
  • sufrir – sufriendo – suffering
  • vivir – viviendo – living

Present Participles of Stem Changing -ir and -er Verbs

If a Spanish verb experiences a stem change (e:i or o:u) in the preterite form, then the verb undergoes the same stem change in the present participle. To form the present participle of a stem changing -ir or -er verb, remove the -ir or -er suffix from the end of the infinitive, affix the -iendo suffix to the stem, and change the e in the stem to an i or the o in the stem to a u. For example:

  • Infinitive – Present Participle – English
  • consequir – consiguiendo – attaining, achieving
  • decir – diciendo – saying
  • dormir – durmiendo – sleeping
  • morir – moriendo – muriendo – dying
  • pedir – pidiendo – asking for
  • poder – pudiendo – being able to
  • server – sirviendo – serving
  • venir – viniendo – coming

Present Participles with Spelling Changes

To spell the present participle of a Spanish verb whose -er, or -ir suffix precedes a vowel or nothing, remove the -er, or -ir suffix and affix the -yendo suffix to the stem. Notice that the i changes to a y. For example:

  • Infinitive – Present Participle – English
  • caer – cayendo – falling
  • construir – construyendo – constructing
  • creer – creyendo – believing
  • huir – huyendo – fleeing
  • ir – yendo – going
  • leer – leyendo – reading
  • oír – oyendo – hearing
  • traer – trayendo – bringing

Spanish present participles most often combine with the verb estar ‘to be’ to form the present progressive conjugation of verbs in Spanish.

Note: I have studied Spanish as a foreign language. Please feel free to correct any mistakes that I have made in my Spanish.

References

Ramboz, Ina. 2008. Spanish verbs & essentials of grammar (Verbs and Essentials of Grammar Series), 2nd edn. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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