Quick Answer

In Spanish, the verb form that ends in -ndo is called the gerundio. It is used in compound verb forms, such as Estoy nadando.(I'm swimming.), as well as adverbially, as in Salió corriendo.(literally, He left running.)

Tricky Terminology

In English, the gerund is the noun form of a verb, such as swimming in the sentence below. In Spanish, this form is often translated using an infinitive, such as nadar.

Es divertido nadar.
Swimming is fun.

In English, the term present participle is used to refer to verbal elements or -ing adjectives, such as swimming in the examples below.

I am swimming.
Estoy nadando.
Where did you buy those swimming shorts?
¿Dónde compraste ese short de natación?

Just to be super clear about the differences between certain grammatical terms in Spanish and English, here are the translations for a few tricky ones.

  • present participle = gerundio
  • past participle = participio
  • gerund = no direct translation

Though you may see gerund erroneously translated as gerundio, there is no direct Spanish equivalent to an English gerund. In most translations, the closest thing would be the infinitivo(infinitive).

When to Use Gerundios

In Progressive Tenses with Estar

Gerundios form the second part of progressive tenses formed with estar.

Estoy leyendo un libro.
I am reading a book.
Estaba pensando en ti.
I was thinking about you.

To Express Ongoing Actions

Gerundios can be used with verbs like ir, seguir, andarand venir, to emphasize the idea of an ongoing action.

Anda buscando sus llaves.
He is walking around looking for his keys.
Vas saliendo de la enfermedad.
You are gradually coming out of your sickness.
Seguimos estudiando los libros.
We keep on studying the books.
Vengo sintiendo un gran consuelo.
I've been feeling a great comfort.

As Adverbs

Gerundios can function as adverbs, modifying the action of another verb in the same phrase.

Pasé el día leyendo.
I spent the day reading.
Chiflando y chasqueando los dedos, se bajó del autobús.
Whistling and snapping his fingers, he got off the bus.

When NOT to Use Gerundios

As Nouns

Remember that English gerunds are often translated into Spanish as an infinitive.

I like speaking Spanish.
Me gusta hablar español.
Seeing is believing.
Ver es creer.
Running is good for your health.
Correr es bueno para la salud.

As Adjectives

English adjectives that end in -ing are not translated to Spanish using a gerundio. You'll often see them translated as phrases beginning with de(of, from) or que(that, which).

I bought myself some running shoes.
Me compré unos zapatos de correr.
Who does that crying baby belong to?
¿De quién es el bebé que llora?
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