How To Conjugate Spanish Verbs in the Imperfect Progressive Tense

In this lesson you will learn how to conjugate Spanish verbs in the imperfect progressive tense. Before we jump into today’s Spanish grammar topic, you should be aware that this Spanish verb tense has several names:

1. Past Continuous Tense

2. Imperfect progressive tense

3. Past progressive tense

However, I will use the name imperfect progressive tense in order to describe this Spanish verb tense. The first rule to keep in mind is that in order to conjugate this verb tense you need the verb estar (to be) for any pronoun in the imperfect tense and the present participle of a verb. As a reference, in English you use was/were and any -ING verb form, e.g., I was running, I was singing, I was walking, I was talking.

For verbs ending in -AR, the present participle is formed by dropping the ending and adding -ANDO. If the regular verb ends in -ER or -IR you add -IENDO. The present participle is the same for all pronouns. Only the verb estar is conjugated according to the pronoun in the imperfect tense. See the following examples that I have listed below.

yo estaba comiendo – I was eating

tú estabas comiendo – you were eating

él/ella estaba comiendo – he/she was eating

usted estaba comiendo – you were eating (formal)

nosotros estábamos comiendo – we were eating

ustedes estaban comiendo – you were eating (plural)

ellos/ellas estaban comiendo – they were eating

You can effectively learn this tense using your copy of the Verbarrator software for learning Spanish verbs. But I do want to point out that in the Verbarrator this tense is not listed as the “imperfect progressive tense.” In your Verbarrator software you will see this tense listed as the Past Continuous Tense.

You should also be aware that there are certain verbs in the Spanish language that carry irregular present participles. Some of the verbs that have irregular present participles are as follows:

Leer – to read

Proveer – to provide

Creer – to believe

Freír – to fry

Traer – to bring

And their present participles are as follows:






Now you know how to conjugate Spanish verbs in the imperfect progressive tense. However, when describing an action that was in progress in the past but is now completed, you should use the preterit progressive tense. For example,

Yo estuve tocando la guitarra hasta que Natalia vino a buscarnos.

I was playing the guitar until Natalia came to look for us.