Spanish Lessons


Combining Verbs in Spanish - Part 2 - Gerundios and Participios

Combining Verbs in Spanish - Part 1

Let's continue our lesson on the use of verbal periphrases. In the first part of this lesson, we reviewed examples that combine conjugated verbs with infinitives. Now it's time to learn periphrases that combine conjugated verbs with the Spanish forms of the verb known as gerundios and participios.


Verbal periphrases that use the gerundio are used to express the passing of an action. They combine a conjugated auxiliary verb and a gerundio. Remember, the English gerund is the -ing form of the verb, but the Spanish gerundio is the -ndo form. Perhaps the easiest and most common example of these periphrases is the one that uses the verb estar (to be) as the auxiliary verb:

Estoy cursando las últimas dos materias del último trimestre.

I am taking the last two courses of the last trimester.

Caption 4, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana - Viviana Reyes

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Y con esta blusa, vamos a ver,

And with this blouse, let's see,

ya estamos armando el... el disfraz.

we're already putting together the... the costume.

Captions 22-23, Un disfraz - En el mercado

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However, you can use other verbs as well. The most used are the verbs andar (to go),empezar (to start), llevar (to carry), salir (to go out), etc. Here's an interesting example using the reflexive verb quedarse (to stay, to remain):

No, él se queda aquí trabajando.

No, he stays here working.

Caption 11, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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Here is an example with the verb salir (to go out):

Y además salió diciendo

And he also appeared saying

que para él era un orgullo que yo estuviera en el país.

that he was very proud that I was in the country.

Caption 62, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro

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Ya después me pasé a otra banda en la que...

Later on, I changed to another band in which...

en la que volvimos a hacer covers.

in which we did covers again.

Captions 49-50, Willy - Entrevista - Part 3

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On the other hand, periphrases that use the participio are usually meant to express the result of an action. They combine a conjugated auxiliary verb with a participio. Remember that the Spanish participio is the -ado, -ido, -to, -so, -cho forms of the verb (and their feminine and plural counterparts). Here is our first example using the auxiliary verb quedarse (to stay):

Se queda perfectamente pegado.

It remains perfectly stuck.

Caption 32, Tecnópolis - Ciencia en casa

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Compare this example using the verb quedarse and participio with the previous one that uses quedarse and gerundio. Do you get the difference in use and meaning between the two?
Let's review a few more examples of periphrases using participio. You can use the verb tener (to have) as auxiliary verb:

Es verdad que nosotros tenemos instaladas videocámaras

It's true that we have video cameras installed

en los pasillos.

in the hallways.

Caption 12, Club de las ideas - Si yo fuera director

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Or you can use the verb llevar (to carry):

Estos paquetes ...

These packagages ...

llevan puestos desde el miércoles pasado.

have been set since last Wednesday.

Captions 3-6, La Champiñonera - El cultivo de champiñón

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Or the verb dejar (to leave):

Y le dejo esto puesto, ¿eh?

And I leave this on, huh?

Caption 46, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos

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To finish this lesson, compare these two examples of periphrases: one uses the gerundio and the other uses the participio. Which is which? Can you understand the difference in meaning? We are sure you do!

Me tengo que ir. Te dejo escrita la lista de invitados. | I have to go. I leave written the guest list for you [I'm leaving the guest list written out for you].
Me tengo que ir. Te dejo escribiendo la lista de invitados. | I have to go. I leave you writing the guest list [I'm leaving you to write the guest list].

Thank you for reading!

Combining Verbs in Spanish - Part 1 - Infinitives

In Spanish, many useful expressions are formed by combining two verbs. This type of expression is called a perífrasis verbal (verbal periphrasis) and is formed by combining a conjugated verb with a verb in the infinitive (or a gerund or participle), sometimes with a linking word between the two. A verbal periphrasis helps us to express subtle aspects of a verb's action, for example, its beginning, ending, duration, progression, etc. Let's review some examples:

In one of our videos, Leire, the lead singer of the Spanish pop band, La Oreja de Van Gogh, uses a periphrasis to express the ending of an action with the verb acabar (to finish), the preposition de, and the verb llegar (to arrive):



Acabamos de llegar al hotel.

We just arrived at the hotel.

Caption 3, La Oreja de Van Gogh - Recién llegados a México tras 12 horas de avión...

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Therefore, you can use acabar de + a wide variety of verbs to express the ending of an action. Some examples (for the first person singular) are acabo de comer (I just ate), acabo de salir (I just went out), acabo de decir (I just said), etc.

Similarly, you can combine the verb empezar (to begin), the preposition a, and a verb in the infinitive to express the beginning of an action:

Si nos comemos una seta de éstas,

If we eat one of these mushrooms,

empezamos a ver aquí pitufos de colores

we start to see colorful smurfs here

Captions 47-48, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

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To express repetition, you can use the verb volver (to go back), the preposition a, and a verb in the infinitive:

Si no te resulta, vuelve a empezar.

If it doesn't work for you, start over.

Caption 37, Alex Sandunga - Déjala

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Ya después me pasé a otra banda en la que...

Later on, I changed to another band in which...

en la que volvimos a hacer covers.

in which we did covers again.

Captions 49-50, Willy - Entrevista

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To express intention, you can use querer (to want) and a verb in the infinitive:

Pero nosotros al decir en tu casa,

But we, in saying at your house,

nosotros queremos decir en la nuestra.

we mean at ours.

Caption 43, La Banda Chilanguense - El habla de México

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The verb estar (to be), the preposition para, and a verb in the infinitive can be used to express intention as well:

No estoy para perder todo el día, ¿me entendiste?

I'm not up for wasting the whole day, do you get it?

Captions 41-42, Yago - 6 Mentiras

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Pues claro, aquí estamos para ayudarte a encontrar

Well of course, we're here to help you find

lo que tú necesitas.

what you need.

Captions 11-12, Raquel y Marisa - Agente del concesionario

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In previous lessons, we explored the use of verbs like deber (to have to, must), tener (to have), and haber (to have) to express duty, necessity, or obligation. These are additional examples of verbal periphrases that sometimes employ prepositions or pronouns such as de or que as a link and other times stand on their own. Plenty more examples of verbal periphrases can be found in the lessons Deber / Deber De + InfinitiveHaber + De + Infinitive: Something You Should Learn, and Imperative Constructions


To conclude, we'll leave you with one more example that utilizes the verb tener (to have), the preposition que, and the infinitive buscar (to look for):

Tenía que buscarme la vida, ¿sabes?

I had to make a living, you know?

Caption 56, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos

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That's all for today. Thank you for reading this lesson, and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions


Combining Verbs in Spanish - Part 2


Grammar Verbs

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