Present and present progressive tense are very easy and they are the first tenses we learn.

However, in specific situations, both Spanish and English speaker make a typical mistake because we try to translate from one language to the other.

Let’s take a look at the following example.

Imagine it’s 10 o’clock in the morning and you say:
“Hoy estoy cenando con mis padres” (I am having dinner with my parents today)

In English, it sounds perfectly fine, right? but in Spanish is weird and even it can be confusing undecided

So… is right Presente progresivo (estoy cenando)? or  Presente simple (ceno)?

Let’s see a simple explanation to know how to use these tenses properly!


The present progressive is formed with “to be” verb (present tense) plus the gerund form (-ando/-iendo) (in English, “-ing ending”)

Example: Yo estoy comiendo macarrones.
Example: María está cantando una canción muy bonita.


Are these tenses used in the same way in Spanish than English? The answer is NOT ALWAYS.

We can notice a common mistake between English speakers as the English language uses progressive tense in more situations than the Spanish language.

Here you will find the situations where we use the present tense and present progressive in Spanish.



PRESENT TENSE: Here is where English speakers often make mistakes because they use the progressive tense in English.

  • Fixed plans near future:
    Esta noche ceno con mis padres (I’m having dinner with my parents tonight)
  • Trends:
    Cada vez más personas usan WhatsApp para comunicarse (More and more people are using WhatsApp to communicate each other).



PRESENT PROGRESSIVE: Good news! It’s the same in Spanish and English! 🙂

  • Actions happening at the moment of speaking:
    Estoy limpiando la casa porque está sucia (I’m cleaning the house because it’s dirty)
  • Temporary actions:
    Estoy estudiando en España este año (I’m studying in Spain this year)
  • Actions happening (longer action):
    María está aprendiendo español porque le encantan los idiomas (María is learning Spanish because she loves languages)
  • Repeated actions which are irritating to the speaker (with always, constantly, forever): Siempre está cantando, no puedo dormir tranquilamente (He is always singing, I can’t sleep calmly)