When we talk about the present, people often refer to their present life using the present tense: “I work at the supermarket.” However, there is another verb tense for the continuous present, the present progressive tense, which is used to create a greater sense of continuity or ongoing action.

In English, the present progressive tense (or present continuous tense– it’s the same thing) is formed by combining the verb “to be” with the present participle: for instance, “I am working.”* So:

  • Present tense: I work
  • Present progressive/continuous tense: I am working

In Spanish, the present progressive tense functions similarly:

  • Present tense: Trabajo
  • Present tense: Estoy trabajando

Note that Spanish always uses estoy with the present progressive. We’ll discuss that more in the section that follows.

*For more on the present progressive tense in English, see the entry on Advanced Verb Tenses in the Guide to Writing.


  • Review and practice use of all question-words
  • Use the present progressive to talk about actions ongoing in the present moment
  • Distinguish the different ways to say “to be” in Spanish