El Gerundio

Una lección fácil-finalmente

¿Qué estás haciendo en este momento?
¿Qué estabas haciendo ayer a la misma hora?
¿Qué estarás haciendo mañana a la misma hora?

Close your eyes and imagine yourself somewhere else.
¿Qué estás haciendo?

Keep notes in your notebook. Do "ciudad/zoo" activity and "Para practicar" on separate paper to be turned in.

The present participle- gerundio- (="ing" in English) is easy to work with and only has a few idiosyncrasies.  First let's look at how it is formed.
Rule #1:  Work from the infinitive and the gerundio form NEVER changes- for anything.  Ever.  Honest. There will be no more rules.

Are there any "weird" or irregular verbs?  Of course, but they are all logical, so it should be easy to remember the changes.

Stem Changing Verbs
Only IR verbs change, and the change is either E>I or O>U.  AR & ER verbs don't have a stem change in the gerundio. Let's look at some examples:
"Y" verbs
When you have a verb ending in a vowel +ER/IR, change the I in IENDO to Y.  It looks better and sounds better.  You've done this before.  Do you remember the tense?  Look at the examples:
  Impress me.  Why didn't "seguir" change? (In previous section)  It fits the rule, doesn't it?...Or does it?????

Two other things:
IR changes to yendo.  "IENDO" doesn't look like a word.

PODER > pudiendo.  It sounds better than "podiendo".

¡Vamos a practicar un poco!  En tu libreta escribe el gerundio para los verbos siguientes.

Go check your answers  (Click «BACK» to return to this spot)
How did you do?  That's it.  You now know how to form the gerundio.

Object Pronouns and the gerundio
Is there anything else you need to know about the gerundio in terms of its formation?  Of course.  Why else would I ask?  Where would you put an object pronoun if you have a gerundio?  Good question.  There are three times when you can attach an object pronoun (direct, indirect or reflexive, or even double) on the end of a verb- if the verb is in the infinitive form (...para despertarme), if it's an affirmative command (¡Despiértate!), or if it's a gerundio (Estoy despertándome).  Regardless of the verb, if you add a pronoun on the end of a gerundio, you must write an accent on the A or E before the N.  It should be noted that the pronoun can also preceed the main verb (usually estar, as you will shortly see).

Try to do these.  Do the same as you did above, but put the stated pronoun on the end.  If you don't practice it, you won't be able to do it.

Check your answers
How did you do?


So what is it used for?  First of all, it's always used as an action- never as a noun.  (This is ironic, because by definition, that is what the gerund is in English.)  Do you remember, (and I hope you do) what form of the verb is always used as a noun?   It's also never used after a preposition.  What do you use after a preposition?

So we know what it is not.  Let's look at what it is.


We saw that the infinitive can be used to show that you observed someone do something.  Vimos al hombre robar el banco. We saw the man rob the bank.   Oímos a la mujer cantar en el concierto.  We heard the woman sing in the concert.  The use of the infinitive in these expressions signifies that you saw the entire action.  If we were to use the gerundio in the same sentences...Wait!  Let's just do it and see what happens!

Do you see and understand the difference?  In these sentences the entire action was not seen or heard, just part of it AS IT WAS IN PROGRESS.

Actividad: Go on an adventure and make observations of what you see and hear people doing (not what they did).  Make a list of 3 "Vi" and 3 "Oí" oraciones.

By ...ing

The gerund can also stand by itself to mean "By .......ing" or "While ( if, when, because one....) + verb".  Huh?  Look at the following examples.  They're the best way to understand this.


Another very common use of the gerund is poetic.  It goes along with the observation use.  Close your eyes and picture yourself in some really special lugar, estación o tiempo.  Imagine actions that  you see, hear, smell, taste and/or feel happening.  Make a poem using the gerundio to express this.

Make your list of 10 such frases.  Add adjectives and/or prepositional phrases.  Call it your "Oda a .......(whatever your lugar especial es)."

How long?

The gerundio is used after the verb PASAR and a period of time to express the time duration of an action.  Look at these examples:

How is this different from the "hace + time period + que + action in the present" construction I know you remember?   Compare and answer the question on your own.
  Do you see a difference?  The "Pasar + gerundio" sentences are talking about "uninterrupted" actions- how long you have been working at a specific activity.  The "Hace" sentences deal with general activities you do- not specific uninterrupted activities.

A real structure activity!  Put the information together to form complete sentences saying how much time people spent doing something.  Use the verb "PASAR" in the preterite.

ejemplo:  Yo/hablar con mis padres/ 1 hora >Pasé una hora hablando con mis padres.

Check your answers.

The Progressive Tenses

As part of a compound verb structure, it is the equivalent of the English "...ing".  The "to be" verb used with this is ALWAYS estar. Estar + gerundio = to be +  "ing".  This is called the progressive tense- it can be past, present, future, whatever.  It signifies that at that time something is (was, will be, etc.)  happening.  It's what is going on at the moment.

Nota importante: It cannot be used to express anything other  than what is happening at the stated time.  For example:  In English we might say, "I am leaving tommorow."  In Spanish this would be expressed by the simple present (Mañana me voy/salgo.), or the "ir a " construction- (Mañana voy a salir.).  You may not use the present progressive for this.


Ejemplo:  ¿Por qué tienes el jabón?> Estoy lavándome las manos.
  Otra actividad con pronombres objetivos.  Imagine you have the items in the following questions.  The questioner asks what you are doing to the item, but respond using the appropriate object pronoun- (lo, la, los, las).  Attach it to the end of the gerundio, and remember to add an accent on the vowel before the "n".  Don't repeat any verbs.  Try to be creative.

ejemplo:  ¿Qué haces con la carta?  > Estoy enviándola a mi amiga en Venezuela.

The gerundio is also used frequently after some other verbs.  Each has its own significance, so follow along.

It is used after the verbs seguir and continuar to mean "to keep on (continue, still be) doing something".

After the verb ir, the gerundio is used to express that something is going on sloooooowly or gradually.  The gerundio can be used after any verb of motion to signify that something was happening when the "motion" action took place. Got it?

Para practicar

Just for fun, ...or practice, ...or because you have to, complete the following sentences with a gerundio lógico and whatever else will complete the sentence creatively.  Don't repeat any verbs, por favor.  Escoge 10.

Go do a Spanish On Line Lesson.  Take the test and send the results to me.

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Respuestas- forms of gerunds

firmando, corriendo, creyendo, abriendo, muriendo, pensando, diciendo, buscando, pidiendo, teniendo, viniendo, atrayendo, riendo, yendo, siendo, construyendo

Respuestas- gerundios con pronombres objetivos

lavándome, levantándonos, pidiéndolo, comprándolas, leyéndola, quejándote

Respuestas- How long?   pasar + gerundio

Pasé quince minutos duchándome.
Ellos pasaron dos horas estudiando.
Pasaste tres semanas escribiendo el informe.
El profesor pasó cuatro noches leyendo los proyectos.
Mi amigo y yo pasamos media hora riéndonos por teléfono.