¿Qué estás haciendo?

Everyone does it: flipping through the comment section while watching YouTube videos, sending emails while walking, checking our social media profiles during meetings, chatting on the phone while shopping. The list of examples is endless but the bottom line is one only: being singletaskers seems abominable in today’s society.

In Spanish, to express our whatever advanced degree of multitasking, that is, the myriad of activities we are able to perform at once, we rely on estar along with some extra help.


Let’s see some examples:

Estoy organizando la fiesta de cumpleaños de Alia. → I am organising Alia’s birthday party.

Luis está bebiendo un vaso de agua. → Luis is drinking a glass of water.

Daniel y tú estáis escribiendo un correo a vuestro jefe. → You and Daniel are writing an email to your boss.


The sentences above show that the English present continuous (present tense of to be + verb in -ing form) has an equivalent structure in Spanish. In fact, the present conjugation of estar is used together with the gerund form (-ndo) of the verb whose action is being performed. Both structures describe a present action that is in progress at the time of the speech as well as an action that is repeated over a period that is considered present.

To form the gerund of Spanish verbs, the infinitive ending (–ar/–er/–ir) drops and the correct gerund termination is added based on the verb group they belong to.


yo estoy

-ar → -ando

-er → -iendo

-ir → -iendo

él/ella está
nosotros/nosotras estamos
vosotros/vosotras estáis
ellos/ellas están


Here are some more examples:

Estamos repasando para el examen de inglés  → We are revising for the English exam.

¿Qué estás comiendo?  → What are you eating?

Están saliendo del cine ahora mismo. → They are leaving the cinema right now.

Not surprisingly, a considerable bunch of verbs feature an irregular gerund form. The change, though, occurs within the verbal stem rather than the gerund termination. The good news is that most of them can be classified into categories, which certainly makes recognising them easier.

The most common irregular changes are:

decir e → i diciendo saying / telling
pedir e → i pidiendo asking / ordering
oír er/ir → y oyendo hearing
leer er/ir → y leyendo reading
ir er/ir → y yendo going
morir o → u muriendo dying
dormir o → u durmiendo sleeping


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