Grammar Glossary for Spanish Students

Estamos caminando. (We are hiking.). Photo by El Coleccionista de Instantes; licensed via Creative Commons.

Definition: Progressive verb forms in English are those made by following a form of the verb "to be" with the gerund (the "-ing" form) of a verb. As the name suggests, this construction suggests that the action described by the verb was, is or will be in progress.

In Spanish, the progressive forms usually are made by using a conjugation of estar followed by the gerund (-ando or -iendo verb form). The progressive forms are used less often in Spanish than in English, and many thoughts that are expressed in English using progressive verb forms are not properly translated that way into Spanish.

In Spanish, the progressive verb forms often emphasize the continuing nature of the verb's action.

In Spanish, "progressive" can also refer to the use of verbs other than estar that are combined with gerunds. For example, the gerund can be combined with the verb andar, as in this sentence: Andaba hablando de cambio de actitud. (He went about talking about a change of attitude.)

Also known as: Continuo in Spanish, "continuous" in English.

Examples: Spanish: Estoy estudiando. Está nevando. Estuvimos hablando tres horas. Equivalents in English: I am studying. It is snowing. We were talking for three hours.