Non-Personal Forms of Verbs in Spanish.

Non-Personal Forms of Verbs.

In the Post about tenses and verbal forms in both languages, we saw the definitions of some types of these which are similar in both languages. Such is the case of the infinitive, the past participle and the present participle. At that time, we don’t mention their classification as non-personal forms of verbs.

We saw only the definition of the infinitive form, and only mention past and present Participles without defining them and see the way they are grouped from the point of view of the Spanish grammar.

This group they belong to these three verbal forms which is called: forms non-personal of the verbs is, by definition, which includes verbal forms which do not express the person who performs the action. Non-personal forms are:

  • Infinitive → indicates the action abstraction. Ends in “ar”, “er”, “ir”:

Cantar → to sing

Yo no quiero cantar → I don’t want to sing

Comer → to eat

Yo no quiero comer → I don’t want to eat

Sacudir → to shake

Yo prefiero sacudir mi cuerpo con esa música → I prefer to shake my body with that music

  • Present participle or gerund → indicates an action in development.

The present participle in Spanish is the verb ending with “ing” in English.  It combines pulling out the endings “ar”, “er”, “ir” verbs in the infinitive and adding:

“ando” → for verbs that end in “AR”


cantar → cantando → Ese niño sabe cantar. El está cantando como un artista.

to sing → singing → That boy know to sing. He is singing like an artist.

“iendo” → for verbs that end in “ER” or “IR”


comer → comiendo

to eat → eating

sacudir → sacudiendo

to shake → shaking

For verbs whose root ends in a vowel, the “i” of “iendo” ending changes to ‘Y’ when is preceded by a vowel.


Leer → leyendo

to read → reading

Oír → oyendo

to hear → hearing

One of the most important differences with respect to the definitions of the verb forms in English is that in Spanish, the gerund means the same as the present participle.

In English, although both are written with “ing” ending, the gerund functions as noun or substantive, and can have functions of subject, complement of the subject, direct object, indirect object, and object of prepositions.

  • Past participle → indicates completed action. It ends in “ado” or “ido”:

cantado → sung

comido → eaten

sacudido → shaken

In Spanish, as in English, it is always used together with an auxiliary verb and this is the tense that defines the tense of the combination, which will always be one of the variants of the past, as we shall see in the next Post.

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Written By Alberto Otano

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