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Present Progressive

To form the present progressive in Spanish, combine a form of "estar" with the present participle. To form the present participle of regular -ar verbs, add -ando to the stem of the verb. To form the present participle of regular -er and -ir verbs, add -iendo to the stem of the verb. Learn more about participles in grammar.

Introducing the present progressive tense

The present progressive is a common English construction used to express what you are doing right now. For example: right now, we are telling you about the present progressive. And that itself contains a use of the present progressive. 

The present progression is constructed by joining the helping verb "is/are" with the present participle of a given base verb.

This tense is useful for asking and/or telling someone what is in the process of happening at the present moment. 

Rules for proper usage

Here is an example of the present progressive being used correctly within a sentence. 

"As we speak right now, the pirates are raiding the coastal village; their ship has a Jolly Roger flag and everything." 

In this sentence, the phrase "are raiding" is a correct use of the present progressive. 

Now, here is an example of the present progressive being used in an incorrect way

"He is going to the movie yesterday, but along the way, his bus mysteriously broke down, causing him to miss the show."

This is an incorrect use of the present progressive because the sentence is talking about something that happened in the past. 

For your reference, here are a couple rules you can follow in order to make sure you are using the present progressive in a proper way. 

  1. Most commonly, the present progressive is used to speak of an action that is in the process of occurring at the present time. Of course, it began at some time in the past; but this is not the point of the present progressive. The point is that the action is happening, immediately, right now in the situation under consideration. 
  2. The present progressive can also be used to speak about what a person will or will not do in the future. This is related to the fact that in English, the phrase "am/are going to" is a valid construction of the future tense. The construction here is the same, although its temporal meaning is somewhat different.   

Past progressive is the most immediate verb tense

The present progressive is perhaps the most immediate of all the verb tenses in the English language. This is because it directly evokes the sense of a real situation that is unfolding as one speaks. The progressive tenses in general always have this sense of immediacy; but the present progressive is the most immediate of all, since the sense of immediacy is not only suggested but also literally real within the context of the situation that is being talked about.

The present progressive forces one to conceptualize the present moment in terms of becoming rather than being: that is, not in terms of a static and stable thing, but rather an action that is continually in the process of unfolding. 

It is worth noting, though, that the present progressive also has other uses as well. The most notable one is its capacity to represent the future, which is based on the nature of the English future tense. It can also be used to express a longer-term process that is less immediate but still ongoing within the context of a person's life.

For example, one might ask an adolescent if he "is still growing taller every year". Finally, the present progressive can also be used to express perpetual character traits, or actions that a given person is known to regularly engage in. 

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