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Using andar + present participle to express "going around" [doing something] (perífrasis verbal)

When do we use andar + present participle in Spanish?

In Spanish we sometimes use this verbal structure to express an ongoing action:

andar + present participle

The nuance of this structure, compared to the more usual "estar + present participle" (e.g María estaba buscando una falda roja para comprarse.), is that "andar" gives a sense of "going around" doing something, this movement being real or fictitious).

Let's see some examples:

Carmen anda diciendo que eres un imbécil.Carmen is going round saying that you are an idiot.

No andes rebuscando en mis cajones.Don't go round looking into my drawers.

Esos chicos andan flirteando con todas las adolescentes.These boys go round flirting with all the teenage girls.

In all these examples, verb andar loses its original meaning (to walk), like in all verbal periphrases.

If we take the first sentence given in the explanation above to see how it compares to estar + present participle:

1. María estaba buscando una falda roja para comprarse.

2. María andaba buscando una falda roja para comprarse.

In example 1 we are simply stating that María was looking to buy a red skirt for herself. However in example 2, we imply that she was looking around in different places and it has a more general/vague meaning. 

For a similar structure to this one see also Using ir + present participle to emphasise the progression of an action (perífrasis verbal).

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Examples and resources

No andes rebuscando en mis cajones.Don't go round looking into my drawers.
Esos chicos andan flirteando con todas las adolescentes.These boys go round flirting with all the teenage girls.
Carmen anda diciendo que eres un imbécil.Carmen is going round saying that you are an idiot.
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