In Spanish we use the progressive tense to express a continuous action, with estar + present participle, but there are other structure that also express an action in progress.
Learn how to use ir + present participle [English -ing form] in Spanish
In Spanish we can emphasise the progression of an action in different tenses by using:
Ir [conjugated] + present participle of second verb [-ing form]
By using this structure we stress the progression of the action, which is expressed by the second verb. It has the nuance of "doing something bit by bit". In English it is generally translated into the progressive tense, i.e. am doing/was doing/will be doing, have been doing, and in some cases into "go on doing something " or "get on with doing something".
Have a look at the following examples:
Ella va poniendo la mesa mientras yo termino de cocinar.She is laying the table while I finish cooking.
Los estudiantes fueron terminando las últimas preguntas del examen.The students were finishing off the last questions of the exam.
Nosotros iremos pintando los huevos de pascua para la fiesta de los niños más tarde.We will be getting on with painting the Easter eggs for the children's party later.
Carmen ha ido llamando a los clientes mientras yo hablaba con el jefe.Carmen has been calling the clients (one by one) while I was talking to the boss.
Es bueno que hayas ido despidiéndote de todos antes de tu viaje a Brasil.It is good that you have gradually said goodbye to everyone before your trip to Brazil.
Ustedes van recogiendo las cosas mientras yo termino esto.You get on with the tidying up while I finish this.
Bear in mind that, although this usage is very similar to the progressive tense with estar + present participle, using verb ir + present participle is more emphatic.
Want to make sure your Spanish sounds confident?
We’ll map your knowledge and give you free lessons to focus on your
gaps and mistakes. Start your Braimap today »