Spanish Imperfect Progressive Tense

Overview

The imperfect progressive tense is similar to the present progressive tense and tells what a person was doing. It's especially useful when you want to emphasize the fact that an action in the past was interrupted.

Forming the Imperfect Progressive

The imperfect progressive tense is formed with the imperfect indicative of the verb estar  (the was or were part, which indicates the tense) and the present participle of the content verb (the -ing part, which tells you what was happening.)

Imperfect Progressive Forms

Here's an example of the verb hablar  (to speak) in the imperfect progressive.

SubjectSpanishEnglish
Yo
Estaba hablando.
 
I was speaking.
Estabas hablando.
 
You were speaking.
Él, Ella, Usted
Estaba hablando.
 
He/She was speaking./You were speaking.
Nosotros
Estábamos hablando.
 
We were speaking.
Vosotros
Estabais hablando.
 
You (all) were speaking.
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes
Estaban hablando.
 
They were speaking./You were speaking.
Estaba hablando con mi madre cuando llamaste.
I was talking to my mother when you called.
 
Estaba trabajando a las ocho.
He was working at eight o’clock.
 
Nos vio cuando estábamos caminando en el parque.
He saw us when we were walking in the park.
 

By changing the tense of estar, you can form different progressive tenses, such as the present progressive, the preterite progressive, the imperfect progressive, and the future progressive, etc. The present participle itself doesn't change.

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