Forming Gerunds in Spanish: Rules, Sentences and Exercises

Hello! Welcome to a new grammar lesson. On this occasion, we will learn how to form gerunds in Spanish, a very useful grammatical structure to talk about actions in progress and other things. This lesson includes examples of sentences with verbs in gerund form, simple explanations, and some special cases of irregular gerunds that you must be careful with. Let’s start…

What are gerunds in Spanish?

The Royal Spanish Academy defines gerunds in Spanish as:

An invariable form of the verb that ends in “-ando” in the first conjugation (amando, saltando) and “-iendo (or -yendo)” in the second and third conjugation (comiendo, leyendo, viviendo). This modification of the verb is useful to talk about actions in progress, without indication of time, number or person, and whose behavior is similar to that of adverbs in its grammatical functioning.

Basically, a gerund in Spanish is a modification in the verb’s ending that is used to talk about actions in progress or simultaneous actions. It corresponds to the “-ing” structure of the English language, with the basic difference that in Spanish, the ending will not be “-ing” but “-ando” or “-iendo” depending on the verb’s ending in its infinitive form. This way, a verb like “cantar” (to sing) would change to “cantando” (singing), whereas a verb like “comer” (to eat) would change to “comiendo” (eating). Take a look at the picture below and the way verbs change from infinitive to gerund form in Spanish:

Forming the gerund in Spanish rules, examples and practice
The gerund in Spanish

The rules to form gerunds in Spanish

Transforming -AR endings to -ANDO

First, for verbs that end in -AR in infinitive (first conjugation), we will change the ending from -AR to -ANDO. For example, the verb “AMAR” (to love) will change to “AMANDO” (loving). Pay attention to these examples of sentences with gerunds in Spanish:

Jugar/Jugando – Los niños están jugando en el parque.
Play / Playing – The children are playing in the park.
Hablar/Hablando – Fíjate que Tomás anda hablando mal de ti.
Talk/Talking – Look! Tom talking bad things about you.
Saltar/Saltando – Si sigues saltando en la cama, te voy a castigar.
Jump/Jumping – If you keep on jumping on the bed, I will punish you.

Transforming -ER/-IR endings to -IENDO

When verbs end in -ER in infinitive (second conjugation) and -IR (third conjugation), the ending will change to -IENDO to form the gerund in Spanish. This rule applies to all verbs ending in -ER/-IR such as “VER, SABER, DORMIR, VIVIR” and so on. Listen to and analyze the following group of examples:

Correr/Corriendo – Los perros estaban corriendo en el patio.
Run/Running – The dogs were running in the yard.
Conocer/Conociendo – Estamos conociendo mejor la ciudad.
Know/Knowing – We are getting to know the city better.
Vivir/Viviendo – Ana seguía viviendo en Brasil, cuando su esposo murió.
Live / Living – Ana was still living in Brazil, when her husband died.
Escribir/Escribiendo – Rubén ha pasado escribiendo su ensayo todo el día.
Write/Writing – Rubén has been writing his essay all day.

Interactive quiz: Fill in the blanks with the right gerund form in Spanish.

The gerund of stem-changing verbs in Spanish

We have already seen that in order to form gerunds in Spanish, we only need to modify the verb’s ending. However, this rule does not apply to all verbs in the language, particularly for “stem changing verbs“, which are a group of verbs that, apart from changing their ending, change their stem (the first part of the verb) when conjugated. For example, when conjugating the verbs “decir (to say), repetir (to repeat) and sentir(to feel)” in the present tense and in the gerund form, we must replace the vowel “e” for “i” in the verb’s root, so we will say “diciendo, repitiendo, sintiendo“. Notice that the verb’s ending changes according to the rules we presented earlier (from -ar to -ando, etc.)

Pay attention to the following examples of sentences with a group of stem-changing verbs in gerund form in Spanish:

Decir/Diciendo – Ella estaba diciendo mentiras.
Tell/Telling – She was telling lies.
Pedir/Pidiendo – Nosotros estaremos pidiendo ayuda para esta obra social.
Ask for/Asking for – We will be asking for help for this social work.
Sentir/Sintiendo – María sigue sintiéndose mal producto del accidente.
Feel/Feeling – Mary still feels badly caused by the accident.
Repetir/Repitiendo – El loro lleva horas repitiendo la misma frase.
Repeat/Repeating – The parrot has been repeating the same phrase for hours.
Seguir/Siguiendo – Estamos siguiendo las instrucciones.
Follow / Following – We are following the instructions.
Sugerir/Sugiriendo – Marcos sigue sugiriendo que no vayamos.
Suggest / Suggesting – Marcos continues to suggest that we do not go.
Vestir/Vistiendo – Estamos vistiéndonos para la obra de teatro.
Dress/Dressing – We are dressing for the play.
Venir/Viniendo – He estado viniendo todos los días.
Come/Coming – I’ve been coming every day.
Freír/Friendo – El cocinero está friendo el pescado lentamente.
Fry/Frying – The cook is frying the fish slowly.
Reír/Riendo – Nos estábamos riendo de un chiste que escuchamos.
Laugh/Laughing – We were laughing at a joke we heard.
Dormir/Durmiendo – Ya me estaba durmiendo cuando llegaste.
Sleep/Sleeping – I was already sleeping when you arrived.
Morir/Muriendo – Carlos anda muriéndose de dolor de estómago.
Dye/Dying – Carlos is dying of stomach pain.

Spelling changes when forming gerunds in Spanish

In addition to the previous cases, there are other situations in which the verb’s ending will change from “-IR / -ER” to “YENDO”, adding the letter “Y” and therefore making a spelling change to the verb. Next, we present to you the most important verbs that you must remember and that undergo spelling changes in their gerund form in Spanish.

Caer/Cayendo – Está cayendo una lluvia fuertísima.
Fall/Falling – Rain is falling heavily
Creer/Creyendo – No andes creyendo en cuentos de hadas.
Believe / Believing – Do not keep on believing in fairy tales.
Construir/Construyendo – La empresa aún sigue construyendo el puente.
Build / Building – The company is still building the bridge.
Ir/Yendo – Si sigues yendo a terapia, te sentirás mejor.
Go / Going – If you keep going to therapy, you will feel better.
Leer/Leyendo – Martín iba leyendo un libro de misterio en el bus.
Read/Reading – Martin was reading a mystery book on the bus.
Oír/Oyendo – Estuve oyendo esa canción toda la noche.
Hear/Hearing – I’ve been hearing that song all night.
Proveer/Proveyendo – Estamos proveyendo todo lo necesario para apoyar a los ciudadanos.
Provide/Providing – We are providing everything needed to support citizens.
Traer/Trayendo – He estado trayendo el perro al parque todos los días.
Bring/Bringing – I’ve been bringing the dog to the park every day.

When and how to use gerunds in Spanish

Talking about actions in progress in Spanish

The most common way to use gerunds in Spanish is to talk about actions in progress, which in English is known as “progressive tenses” and in Spanish as “Perífrasis durativas“. In order to talk about actions in progress in Spanish, we generally use the verb ESTAR + a gerund. The verb ESTAR can be replaced by the verbs SEGUIR (to follow), CONTINUAR (to continue), COMENZAR (to start), ACABAR (to finish up), LLEVAR (to carry), VENIR (to come), IR (to go), CAMINAR (to walk). There are several sentences using the progressive tense in Spanish above, but here you have a few others for reference:

Esperar/Esperando – Estoy esperando a mi amigo.
Wait/Waiting – I am waiting for my friend.
Aprender/Aprendiendo – Yo estuve aprendiendo inglés por un tiempo.
Learn / Learning – I was learning English for a while.
Mejorar/Mejorando – Seguimos mejorando el prototipo.
Improve / Improving – We continue improving the prototype.

Simultaneous actions in Spanish

Besides their previous uses, gerunds in Spanish are also used to talk about simultaneous activities. Pay attention to the following examples:

Jugar/Jugando – Los niños estaban jugando en el patio cuando comenzó a llover.
Play / Playing – The children were playing in the yard when it started to rain.
Bajar/ Bajando – El teléfono se me cayó cuando me estaba bajando del bus.
Drop/ Dropped – The phone dropped when I was getting off the bus.

Gerunds playing the role of adverbs

Gerunds are also useful to indicate “how” an action is carried out by the subject. This way, we could say that this pattern would be equivalent to the complements “By doing / by walking, etc.” from the English language. Pay attention to the following sample sentences:

Escribir/Escribiendo – Ella se hizo famosa escribiendo libros de fantasía.
Write/Writing – She became famous by writing fantasy books.
Comprar/Comprando – Él se enriqueció comprando y vendiendo casas.
Buy / Buying – He got rich by buying and selling houses.
Hablar/Hablando – La gente se entiende hablando.
Talk / Talking – People understand each other by talking.

Interactive grammar quiz: Spanish gerunds

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