Monday, June 4, 2012

How to Form The Gerund

OK, since I have absolutely no life I decided to write this presentation on present participles, commonly known as gerunds.  Feel free to send me a comment below; or, if you are interested in some personal lessons, feel free to contact me and let's get started.

The Present Participle (Gerunds)
Now that we have several different verb tenses and their conjugations under our belt, we can start forming more robust sentences using what are known as present participles.  The present participles are also known as gerunds.
The present participle, or gerund, is akin to using a verb ending in –ing in English.  However, whereas English has the consistent –ing suffix, Spanish has a handful of different endings.
To form a present participle, or gerund, of an –ar verb, replace the infinitive suffix (-ar) with –ando:
tomar   tom-   tomando (drinking)
tocar   toc-   tocando (playing)
hablar   habl-   hablando (speaking)

The –er and –ir verbs have the same gerund ending, which is –iendo (pronounced .  
toser   tos-   tosiendo (coughing)
vivir   viv-   viviendo (living)

There aren’t very many irregularities as far as present participles go.  Some verbs have the gerund ending –yendo in order to break up a triple vowel spelling:
caer   ca-   cayendo (falling)
leer   le-   leyendo (reading)
creer   cre-   creyendo (believing)

Verbs that pattern like pedir (to ask for) – (medir (to measure), and impedir (to block) are examples), have a slight change to the root of the gerund:
El mendigo anda pidiendo unas monedas.  The beggar is walking around asking for change.
El cocinero está midiendo una cucharada de azúcar.  The cook is measuring a spoonful of sugar.
Las ramas están impidiendo la calle.  The branches are blocking the street.

The verb morir (to die) forms the gerund by swapping the –o to –u:
Las flores están muriendo.  The flowers are dying.

The Progressive Tense
To use the participles in complete sentences, we use the verb estar plus the gerund.  In conjunction with the conjugated verb, the gerund makes up what is known as the progressive tense.  To make things easy to start off with, we’ll recall the basic, present tense conjugation of estar (to be):
Singular Plural
1st Person yo estoy nosotros estamos
2nd Person tú estás vosotros estáis
3rd Person él, ella, Ud. está ellos, ellas, Uds. están

Estoy escribiendo.  I am writing.
La nieve está cayendo.  The snow is falling.
Estamos corriendo.  We are running.
Los alumnos están leyendo.  The students are reading.
Tú estás cruzando la calle.  You are crossing the street.

Other Verbs That Use a Gerund
The verbs seguir (to follow, to continue) and continuar (to continue) can be used in a progressive tense sentence:
Sigo buscando mi corbata.  I am still looking for my tie (I continue to look for my tie).
El hombre continúa hablando.  The man keeps talking.

The verb andar (to walk) can be used in a progressive tense verb phrase meaning “to walk around ____ing”, and is used to depict something negatively.  However, it can also mean the same thing as estar + gerund, and since it can mean both, context must be taken into account.
El hombre gordo anda comiendo todo el día.  The fat man walks around eating all day.
Los niños andan estudiando.  The kids are studying.

Lastly, the verb ir (to go) can also form a progressive tense verb phrase and is used to depict something that is increasingly so:
Los exploradores fueron aprendiendo más de la gente indígena.  The explorers kept learning more about the indigenous people.
El gobierno va gastando dinero.  The government is spending more and more money.

Important Rules on Using the Gerund
The present participle (gerund) is generally the same as using the gerund in English, with a few exceptions.  The gerund in Spanish is only used for depicting an action that is factual and happening at that very moment.  Observe this English sentence:
I am driving out of the country in March.

Note that we can use the gerund of “to drive” (driving) to depict an action that will occur in the future.  However, in Spanish we can NEVER do this.  We can use either the present tense or the future tense of the verb, like this:
Manejo fuera del país en marzo.  I drive/am driving out of the country in March.
Manejaré fuera del país en marzo.  I will drive/will be driving out of the country in March.

Even further, we use the gerund in English when it is absolutely forbidden in Spanish.  For example, when something is prohibited, we say “No parking”, or
“no smoking”, etc.  In Spanish we cannot use the gerund, but rather the infinitive, like this:
No fumar.  No smoking (Smoking not allowed).
No estacionar.  No parking (Parking not allowed).
No nadar.  No swimming (Swimming not allowed).

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