Easy Learning Spanish

The gerund - Easy Learning Grammar Spanish

What is a gerund?
The gerund is a verb form ending in -ing which is used to form verb tenses, and which in English may also be used as an adjective and a noun, for example, What are you doing?; the setting sun; Swimming is easy!

1   Using the gerund

  • In Spanish, the gerund is a form of the verb that usually ends in -ando or -iendo and is used to form continuous tenses.
Estoy trabajando.I’m working.
Estamos comiendo.We are eating.
  • It is used with estar to form continuous tenses such as:
  • the present continuous
Está fregando los platos.He’s washing the dishes.
Estoy escribiendo una carta.I’m writing a letter.
  • the imperfect continuous
Estaba reparando el coche.She was fixing the car.
Estaban esperándonos.They were waiting for us.
  • Note that continuous tenses should only be used in Spanish to describe action that is or was happening at the precise moment you are talking about.
Grammar Extra!Sometimes another verb, such as ir or venir is used instead of estar with a gerund in continuous tenses. These verbs emphasize the gradualness or the slowness of the process.
Iba anocheciendo.It was getting dark.
Eso lo vengo diciendo desde hace tiempo.That’s what I’ve been saying all along.
  • The gerund is also used after certain other verbs:
  • seguir haciendo algo and continuar haciendo algo are both used with the meaning of to go on doing something or to continue doing something.
Siguió cantando or Continuó cantando.He went on singing or He continued singing.
Siguieron leyendo or Continuaron leyendo.They went on reading or They continued reading.
  • llevar with a time expression followed by the gerund is used to talk about how long someone has been doing something:
Lleva dos años estudiando inglés.He’s heen studying English for two years.
Llevo una hora esperando aquí.I’ve been waiting here for an hour.
  • Note that the present tense of llevar followed by a gerund means the same as the English have/has been + -ing.
  • pasar(se) with a time expression followed by the gerund is used to talk about how long you’ve spent doing something.
Pasé or Me pasé el fin de semana estudiando.I spent the weekend studying.
Pasamos or Nos pasamos el día leyendo.We spent the day reading.
  • Verbs of movement, such as salir (meaning to come out or to go out), entrar (meaning to come in or to go in), and irse (meaning to leave) are sometimes followed by a gerund such as corriendo (meaning running) or cojeando (meaning limping). The English equivalent of salir corriendo, entrar corriendo or irse cojeando, would be to run out, to run in or to limp off in such cases.
Salió corriendo.He ran out.
Se fue cojeando.He limped off.
TipUse a past participle not a gerund to talk about physical position.
Estaba tumbado en el sofá.He was lying on the sofa.
Estaba sentada.She was sitting down.
Lo encontré tendido en el suelo.I found him lying on the floor.
La escalera estaba apoyada contra la pared.The ladder was leaning against the wall.
  • You will also come across the gerund used in other ways. For example:
Los vimos jugando al fútbol.We saw them playing football.
Estudiando, aprobarás.By studying, or If you study, you’ll pass.

2   Forming the gerund of regular verbs

  • To form the gerund of regular -ar verbs, take off the -ar ending of the infinitive to form the stem, and add -ando.
InfinitiveStemGerund
hablarhabl-hablando
trabajartrabaj-trabajando
  • To form the gerund of regular -er and -ir verbs, take off the -er and -ir ending of the infinitive to form the stem, and add -iendo.
InfinitiveStemGerund
comercom-comiendo
vivirviv-viviendo

3   The gerund of irregular verbs

  • Some verbs have an irregular gerund form. You have to learn these.
InfinitivesMeaningGerundMeaning
decirto saydiciendosaying
dormirto sleepdurmiendosleeping
freírto fryfriendofrying
morirto diemuriendodying
pedirto ask forpidiendoasking for
poderto be able topudiendobeing able to
reírto laughriendolaughing
seguirto followsiguiendofollowing
sentirto feelsintiendofeeling
venirto comeviniendocoming
vestirto dressvistiendodressing
  • In the next group of verbs there is a y rather than the normal i.
InfinitivesMeaningGerundMeaning
caerto fallcayendofalling
creerto believecreyendobelieving
leerto readleyendoreading
oírto hearoyendohearing
traerto bringtrayendobringing
irto goyendogoing
TipIn English, we often use -ing forms as adjectives, for example, running water, shining eyes, the following day. In Spanish, you cannot use the -ando and -iendo forms like this.Instead, there are sometimes corresponding forms ending in -ante and -iente that can be used as adjectives.
agua corrienterunning water
ojos brillantesshining eyes
Al día siguiente, visitamos Toledo.The following day we visited Toledo.
Similarly, in English, we often use the -ing forms as nouns. In Spanish you have to use the infinitive instead.
Fumar es malo para la salud.Smoking is bad for you.

4   Position of pronouns with the gerund

  • Object pronouns and reflexive pronouns are usually attached to the end of the gerund, although you can also often put them before estar in continuous tenses.
Estoy hablándote or Te estoy hablando.I’m talking to you.
Está vistiéndose or Se está vistiendo.He’s getting dressed.
Estaban mostrándoselo or Se lo estaban mostrando.They were showing it to him/her/them/you.
  • Note that you will always have to add an accent to keep the stress in the same place when adding pronouns to the end of a gerund.
  • For more information on Stress, see Stress.
Key points
  • Use the gerund in continuous tenses with estar as well as after seguir and continuar.
  • Gerunds for -ar verbs add -ando to the stem of the verb.
  • Gerunds for -er and -ir verbs usually add -iendo to the stem of the verb.
  • -ando and -iendo gerunds cannot be used as adjectives or nouns.
  • You can attach pronouns to the end of the gerund, or sometimes put them before the previous verb.

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