Using ir + [gerund] to emphasise the progression of an action

In Spanish we can emphasise the progression of an action in different tenses by using:

Ir [conjugated] + gerund 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.

Bear in mind that, although this usage is very similar to the progressive tense with estar + gerund, using verb ir + gerund is more emphatic.

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

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.


Ella va poniendo la mesa mientras yo termino de cocinar.
She is laying the table while I finish cooking.


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.


Los estudiantes fueron terminando las últimas preguntas del examen.
The students were finishing off the last questions of the exam.


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.


Q&A

Korbel

Kwiziq community member

20 November 2018

3 replies

Test question.

Hi Inma,

Here's the test question:

¿Vienes a la Fiesta?  No puedo. _____el partido en la tele.(Are you coming to the party? I can't.  I am planning to watch the match on TV.)   

Answer:  Iba a ver.

Everytime this question comes up, I get it wrong because the English translation " I am planning to watch the team on T.V."  Hence I answer iré a ver. 

Would the english translation rather be " I was planning to watch the team on T.V.

Another question.  Is there a difference between  iré a ver VERSUS voy a ver? I am aware one is future tense and the other is present tense. 

Thank you.

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

20 November 2018

20/11/18

Hola Korbel

I believe the sentence you are referring to is linked to a different lesson, Using ir in El Pretérito Imperfecto to express was/were going to [do something]

In this lesson we are explaining that we use verb IR in El imperfecto (iba, ibas, iba...) followed by "a" + infinitive when we are expressing what we have/had already planned in the past (and in this specific case in your sentence, is still the plan going ahead). So you need:

"¿Vienes a la fiesta?  No puedo. Iba a ver el partido en la tele."

This implies that I had already planned to watch the match. (so I am not going to the party, I am sticking to my plan)

However the English translation in the present continuous can be misleading, so we will change it to "I already planned to watch the match."

With reference to your other query about using iré a ver VERSUS voy a ver, as a general rule, we tend to use "voy a..." when it is about something that you've planned and there is no doubt about it, so you are going ahead with it. However if we use "iré a...", that brings a bit of uncertainty to the plan. So we may have thought about it but the plan may change. Also, the simple future "iré a" is generally used to express something happening in a more far away future. 

Having said that, the difference is very subtle, though.

I hope this helps.

Un saludo

Inma

Korbel

Kwiziq community member

20 November 2018

20/11/18

Muchas gracias Inma.  Todo está claro. 

Korbel

Kwiziq community member

20 November 2018

20/11/18

Pardon, (todo está claro).  I meant  "es claro". Todo está bién.  Gracias por tu ayuda.
Getting that for you now.