Generally speaking, we use the present indicative in Spanish to talk about actions that are taking place at the moment (now). However, that's not the only use of it. Let's take a look at the following list so you can understand how to use the present indicative in Spanish.
Actions that are taking place right at the moment (now):
¿Dónde están las chicas? ¿Las chicas? -Ajá. Lola y Ana. -Uh... Lola y Ana viven aquí.
Where are the girls? The girls? -Uh-huh. Lola and Ana. -Uh... Lola and Ana live here.
Captions 26-29, Extr@: Extra en español Ep. 1 - La llegada de Sam - Part 4Play Caption
In the above sentence, you can see how the verbs estar (to be) and vivir (to live) are conjugated in the present indicative for the third person plural (las chicas/Lola y Ana/ellas... están/viven).
You can also talk about actions that take place over time:
Trabajo en un colegio. Soy maestra de música y de ciencias.
I work at a school. I'm a music and science teacher.
Captions 6-7, Ariana Mi CasaPlay Caption
In this example, you can see the verbs trabajar (to work) and ser (to be) conjugated in the present indicative for the first person singular (yo trabajo/soy).
IMPORTANT! Remember that in Spanish it is very common to drop the pronouns from the sentences. As you can see in the sentence above, Ariana doesn't say "yo trabajo" but rather only "trabajo".
En agosto, vamos a la playa. En septiembre, empieza el otoño.
In August, we go to the beach. In September, the fall begins.
Captions 21-22, El Aula Azul Estaciones y MesesPlay Caption
In the example above, we can see the present indicative of the verb ir (to go) in the first person plural (nosotros vamos) and the present indicative of the verb empezar (to begin) in the third person singular (el otoño empieza).
La Laguna de San Pablo está a los pies del imponente Volcán Imbabura.
The San Pablo Lagoon is at the foot of the imposing Imbabura Volcano.
Caption 13, Otavalo Un día en la ciudad de los lagosPlay Caption
In the example above, Natalia uses the present indicative of the verb estar for the third person singular (está) to state a fact.
You can talk about daily activities and habitual actions using the present indicative:
De lunes a viernes, me levanto a las siete de la mañana.
From Monday to Friday, I get up at seven in the morning.
Caption 2, GoSpanish La rutina diaria de SolPlay Caption
In the above clip, you can see how Sol uses the present indicative of the verb levantarse (yo me levanto) to express one of her habitual actions.
Dante y Mika vienen todos los días a trabajar conmigo aquí al Refugio del Burrito,
Dante and Mika come work with me every day here at the Little Donkey Shelter,
Caption 62, Rosa La perrita MikaPlay Caption
Similarly, Rosa uses the present indicative of the verb venir (to come) to describe something habitual. In this case, the verb is conjugated in the third person plural (Dante y Mika/ellos... vienen).
Did you know that the present indicative can be used for things happening in the near future? Let's see some examples.
Le prometo que termino de morfar y... y salgo a laburar. Va a ver.
I promise you that I'll finish eating and... and go out to work. You'll see.
Caption 63, Yago 8 Descubrimiento - Part 7Play Caption
In this sentence, the speaker is using the present indicative of the verb salir (to go out) in order to express an action that will take place in the near future. Once he's done with his lunch, he will go out to work. The verb is conjugated in the first person singular (yo salgo).
Bueno, pues entonces, no hay que pensarlo más. Mañana hablamos con el jefe y desde la oficina
OK, well then, we don't have to think about it anymore. Tomorrow we'll talk to the boss and from the office
Captions 11-12, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 2 - Part 6Play Caption
In the previous example, you can fully appreciate how the present indicative of the verb hablar (to talk) is used to indicate an action that will take place tomorrow! This may be a bit weird for English speakers but it is a very common formula used by Spanish speakers. The verb is conjugated in the second person plural (nosotros hablamos).
Finally, it is worth mention that in journalism and the academic field, some people like to use the present indicative when referring to historical facts. Let's see the following example:
El Imperio romano cae en el año 476
The Roman Empire falls in the year 476
And that's it for today. We hope this lesson helped you to understand how to use the present indicative in Spanish. And don't forget to send us your comments and questions.