Forming the progressive imperfect with estar + present participle (El Imperfecto progresivo/contínuo))

Spanish past tenses have a continuous (progressive) form each to express an action which is continuing or ongoing in the past.

Learn about El Imperfecto progresivo in Spanish

In the case of El Pretérito Imperfecto, this is how the progressive tense is formed.

It follows this pattern for most regular verbs:

Estar in El Pretérito Imperfecto +

-ando (-AR verbs)

 

-iendo (-ER and -IR verbs)

It is very similar to the English past continuous. Look at and listen to these examples:

Yo estaba llamando a mi sobrina.I was calling my niece.

estabas vendiendo tu casa.You were selling your house.

Ella estaba bailando sevillanas.She was dancing sevillanas.

Nosotros estábamos discutiendo sobre política.We were discussing politics.

Vosotros estabais decidiendo el menú de la boda.You were deciding on the wedding menu.

Ellos estaban llegando al aeropuerto.They were arriving at the airport.

Ustedes estaban comiendo en el bar.You were eating at the bar.



ESTAR

Verbs ending in -AR
LLAMAR (to call)

Verbs ending in -ER-IR
APRENDER (to learn)
VIVIR (to live)

estaba

llamando


aprendiendo
viviendo



estabas

estaba

estábamos

estabais

estaban

For irregular present paritiples/gerunds see List of Spanish irregular gerunds/present participles of the form -iendo and List of Spanish irregular gerunds/present participles of the form -yendo

See also: Forming the present progressive/continuous in Spanish with estar + present participle (El Presente Progresivo)

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Examples and resources

Nosotros estábamos discutiendo sobre política.We were discussing politics.
Ella estaba bailando sevillanas.She was dancing sevillanas.
estabas vendiendo tu casa.You were selling your house.
Vosotros estabais decidiendo el menú de la boda.You were deciding on the wedding menu.
Ellos estaban llegando al aeropuerto.They were arriving at the airport.
Yo estaba llamando a mi sobrina.I was calling my niece.
Yo estaba planchando cuando llegó mi madre.I was ironing when my mother arrived.
El sábado por la tarde Ana estaba leyendo y Juan estaba escuchando música.On Saturday afternoon Ana was reading and Juan was listening to music.
Ustedes estaban comiendo en el bar.You were eating at the bar.
Thinking...