Gerund is a verbal form. It’s hard to explain.
You have the infinitive, the gerund, and the past participle… regardless of the different tenses.
[Not totally relevant to what gerund is, but: Infinitive is the dictionary form hablar, cantar, vivir etc. and a past participle is that verb either used as an adjective or a qualifier with the perfect tense hablado, cantado, vivido etc.]
The gerund is also known as the “progressive” which implies “progress or continuous, gradual movement or completion of the verb”.
Most verbs have a gerund form. I’m saying most because I don’t know all of them to check, but I’m pretty sure.
In English, the gerund is the “-ing” form of the verb. So “live” turns to “living”, “buy” turns to “buying”, “die” turns to “dying”.
Same general principle:
-ar verbs => -ando
-er verbs => -iendo
-ir verbs => -iendo
*Note: Most spelling changes in stem-changing verbs or irregular verbs don’t effect the past participle except for E=>I, E=>IE and O=>UE verbs that are -ir verbs.
Overwhelmingly, a verb that has any kind of spelling change in the gerund form will be an -ir verb; which is why tener is teniendo [not “tiniendo”] but decir is diciendo [not “deciendo”]
- cantar => cantando
- vivir => viviendo
- comer => comiendo
- mantener => manteniendo
- almorzar => almorzando
- llover => lloviendo
- rogar => rogando
- empezar => empezando
- comenzar => comenzando
- nevar => nevando
- poner => poniendo
- decir => diciendo
- hacer => haciendo
- dar => dando
- ver => viendo
- vestir => vistiendo
- competir => compitiendo
- sentir => sintiendo
- mentir => mintiendo
- seguir => siguiendo
- conseguir => consiguiendo
- perseguir => persiguiendo
- dormir => durmiendo
- morir => muriendo
**The other common spelling change exists for verbs that end in -aer, -uir, -eer, or -ír where the -iendo turns to -yendo for the sake of preserving the sound and also brevity.
- contribuir => contribuyendo
- destruir => destruyendo
- distraer => distrayendo
- atraer => atrayendo
- traer => trayendo
- proveer => proveyendo
- poseer => poseyendo
- sobreseer => sobreseyendo
- oír => oyendo
- creer => creyendo
- leer => leyendo
- ir => yendo
Most commonly, the gerund is used to indicate motion. As such it typically follows estar.
The use of gerund is to imply a more emphatic sense of motion or that something is happening at that moment. And they can exist in multiple tenses… most commonly present, imperfect, and preterite; also it exists in subjunctive or the perfect tenses.
Llueve. - It’s raining. / It rains.
Está lloviendo. - It is raining.
Ha estado lloviendo. - It has been raining.
Espero que no esté lloviendo. - I hope it’s not raining.
Dudo que haya estado lloviendo. - I doubt it’s been raining.
Estaba lloviendo. - It was raining.
Había estado lloviendo. - It had been raining.
Esperaba que no estuviera lloviendo. - I hoped it wouldn’t be raining.
No esperaba que hubiera estado lloviendo. - I didn’t expect that it would be raining.
Dormimos. - We sleep. / We are sleeping.
Estamos durmiendo. - We’re sleeping.
Hemos estado durmiendo. - We’ve been sleeping
Dudo que estén durmiendo. - I doubt they’re sleeping.
Dudo que hayan estado durmiendo. - I doubt they’ve been sleeping.
Estábamos durmiendo. - We were sleeping.
Habíamos estado durmiendo. - We had been sleeping.
Dudaba que estuvieran durmiendo. - I doubted they would be sleeping.
Dudaba que hubieran estado durmiendo. - I doubted that they would have been sleeping.
Leo. - I read. / I am reading.
Estoy leyendo. - I am reading.
He estado leyendo. - I have been reading.
Es posible que esté leyendo. - It’s possible that I/he/she/You is reading.
Dudo que hayas estado leyendo. - I doubt you’ve been reading.
Estaba leyendo. - I was reading.
Había estado leyendo. - I had been reading.
El profesor quería que estuviéramos leyendo. - The professor wanted us to be reading. [more common in this case is quería que leyéramos “wanted us to read”; but this is for the sake of example]
No esperaba que hubieras estado leyendo. - I didn’t expect that you would be reading.
But it may also come after a motion verb like andar, ir, salir or something like that.
Salió corriendo. - He/She/You left running.
Ando perdiendo tiempo. - I go around wasting time. [lit. “I walk losing time”]
Ella gritaba, llorando y sollozando. - She screamed, crying and sobbing.
Sigue buscando (tú). - Keep looking.
The gerund can be very useful and idiomatic though, but it’s not really regarded as its own tense or mood, even though I think of it sort of along those lines.
But it’s also very common to use a different tense or expression instead of the gerund; except for when emphasis is your desire. This is because the other tenses often have multiple meanings, so the gerund is sometimes necessary in being specific.
¿Por qué llueve? - Why is it raining? / Why does it rain? [which are two different ideas]
¿Por qué está lloviendo? - Why is it raining?
Mejora. - He/She/You/It gets better. / He/She/You/It is getting better.
Está mejorando. - It’s improving.
¿Cómo te va? - How’s it going? / How goes it (for you)?
¿Cómo te está yendo todo? - How’s everything going for you?
Nevaba. - It was snowing. / It used to snow.
Estaba nevando. - It was snowing. [more emphatic]
Estuvo lloviendo. - It was raining. [at a specific time; less common]
Llovió. - It rained. [more common]
Mi madre esperaba que estuviera haciendo mi tarea. - My mother expected that I was doing my homework. [“in that moment or particular circumstance”; less common]
Mi madre esperaba que hiciera mi tarea. - My mother expected me to do my homework. [more common; more general]
Dudaba que estuviera granizando. - I doubted it would be hailing. [“in that moment or particular circumstance”; less common]
Dudaba que granizara. - I doubted it would hail. [more common; more general]