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Published on: Grammar Bites

How do we use el gerundio en español?

Struggling to figure out how and when to use el gerundio en español? Don’t worry; check out our easy pointers!

1. We use el gerundio to describe the way in which we perform an action:
  • Entró corriendo a la habitación. He came into the room running.
  • Ellas se relajan viendo una película. They relaxed watching a movie.
  • Hacen ejercicio escuchando música. They exercise listening to music.
2. We can use el gerundio to point out the cause or consequence, depending of the context, of a situation or action:
  • Durmiendo todo el día no aprobarás el exámen. You’re not going to pass the exam by sleeping all day.
  • Comiendo así seguro que enfermarás. You’re going to get sick eating like that.
  • Esforzándote puedes lograr lo que quieras. You can achieve anything you want by making an effort.
3. We also use el gerundio to indicate that two or more actions are happening at the same time:
  • Ella cocinó el pavo siguiendo la receta de su abuela. She cooked the turkey by following her Grandmother’s recipe.
  • Esperó el colectivo leyendo un libro de autoayuda. He waited for the bus reading a self-help book.
  • Me indicó la salida extendiendo el dedo índice. She showed me the exit by extending her index finger.
4. One of the most frequently used cases of gerundio is when we combine it with the verb estar to describe things that are taking place at the time of speaking. This is known as el presente continuo tense:
  • Estamos estudiando para el examen. We’re studying for the exam.
  • ¿Qué estás haciendo? What are you doing?
  • Ellas están buscando un nuevo apartamento. They’re looking for a new apartament.
5. In advanced conjugation structures, we use el gerundio to talk about a previous action:
  • Habiendo limpiado toda la casa, ellos se sentaron a disfrutar una película. Having cleaned the entire house, they sat down to enjoy a movie.
  • Habiendo corregido el trabajo muchas veces, finalmente se decidió a enviarlo a su tutor. After correcting the paper many times, she finally decided to send it to her tutor.
  • Habiendo terminado el examen temprano, Juan esperó a sus amigos en la cafetería. Having finished the exam early, Juan waited for his friends at the coffee house.
6. Finally, we can use el gerundio to express something that happens immediately after an action. Although this use is very common in everyday conversation, some grammar texts warn against it:
  • Arrojó la jarra al piso, rompiéndola en mil pedazos. He threw the vase to the floor, breaking into a thousand pieces.
  • El teléfono sonó interrumpiendo su concentración. The phone rang breaking her concentration.
  • Dio los últimos pincelazos con extremo cuidado, culminando así su obra maestra. She applied the final brush strokes with extreme care, thus finishing her masterpiece.
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