What is Gerund in Spanish?

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

When it comes to the 'gerund' in Spanish, you may have the tendency to think of the English gerund. However, the Spanish gerund is simply a verbal form. Let's learn it in this lesson.

Gerund is a Verb Only

When we say things in English like 'Running is my favorite sport', the gerund form 'running' is a noun. However, this does not happen in Spanish.

The word gerundio (heh-ROON-deeoh), which means 'gerund' is to indicate only that a Spanish verb ends in 'ndo', which is the equivalent of 'ing' in English. This means that the gerundio in Spanish is used to express actions that are happening as we speak but also about actions that are continuous.

Does thing ring a bell when it comes to English? If you are thinking about the 'present continuous', you got it exactly right. This means that the gerundio is what we know as the 'present continuous' tense.

We can use it with the verb estar (to be) but also in some fixed expressions with other verbs to express continuous actions. Also, we can use the gerundio as an adverb. Let's learn then how to form the gerundio of verbs in Spanish.

How to Form the Gerund

We have three types of endings for verbs in Spanish: ar, er, ir. For example, hablar (to speak), comer (to eat), salir (to go out).

Turning a verb with these endings into a verb in gerund is very simple. You just need to remember two rules:

  1. -ar verbs: drop the ar and add the ending ando; i.e. caminar (to walk) becomes caminando (walking).
  2. -er and -ir verbs: drop the er or ir and add the ending iendo; i.e. beber (to drink) becomes bebiendo (drinking) and vivir (to live) becomes viviendo (living).

Using the Gerund with Estar

If you are saying that someone is doing something, we need the verb 'to be' before the verb in gerund. This indicates an action that is happening as we speak. Let's see three basic examples:

  • Mi colega está hablando con el jefe. (My colleague is talking to the boss).
  • Yo estoy comiendo un plato tradicional argentino. (I am eating a traditional Argentinian dish.)
  • Mis padres están saliendo a una fiesta. (My parents are going out to a party.)

Yendo

For some verbs, we add the ending yendo. Luckily, there are only a few verbs like this and the most common are:

leer (to read)

  • Tú estás leyendo esta lección de español. (You are reading this Spanish lesson)

traer (to bring)

  • Ustedes están trayendo mucho equipaje. (You (formal/plural) are bringing a lot of luggage.)

caer (to fall)

  • Las hojas están cayendo porque es otoño. (Leaves are falling because it is autumn.)

destruir (to destroy)

  • Usted está destruyendo mi jardín. (You (formal/singular) are destroying my garden.)

construir (to build)

  • El arquitecto está construyendo una casa enorme. (The architect is building a huge house.)

oír (to hear)

  • Vosotros estáis oyendo el ruido de un tren a lo lejos. (You are hearing the noise of a train far away.)

Translation: Fernanda is doing exercise.
goodshape

Using the Gerund with Other Verbs

Besides expressing the present continuous, the Spanish gerundio is also present in some fixed expressions that involve two verbs. This is for continuous actions. The most common verbs are:

andar (to go around)

  • Mi amigo anda buscando trabajo. (My friend goes around looking for a job.)

pasar (to spend)

  • Yo paso leyendo todo el día. (I spend the day reading.)

seguir (to keep on doing something)

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