In English, I can say

The running dog eats.

This is a proper sentence and isn’t very weird or awkward wording. It uses “running” in the place an adjective could go.

In Spanish, is

El perro corriendo come.

or something similar proper grammar?

  • 2
    @aparente001 isn't that redundant to have both progresivo-del-presente and gerundio? Shouldn't they just be synonyms? I think they mean the same thing. Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 13:20
  • @walen could make them synonyms?
    – jacobo
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 14:08
  • @walen - let's discuss the tags in Meta. We could use the tag housekeeping page or start a new question. I'm not sure what I think yet and would welcome the opportunity to see some discussion. One thing I know, at some point we'll need a synonym, "present continuous" and/or "continuous," because some English speakers don't use "progressive." I think that a continuous tense, such as present continuous, is more than just a gerund. Although I recognize that the question here doesn't need that distinction. Maybe that distinction isn't needed in practice -- that's why I need some discussion. Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 14:25
  • @walen - oh, is that something I can read? I didn't know that. Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 15:05
  • 1
    @walen I've replaced the tag edits I did with tiempos-verbales, given the present progressive isn't generally treated as a distinct verb tense in Spanish, unlike in English. It's also not quite identical to a gerund, though it does employ the gerund.
    – jacobo
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 15:09

5 Answers 5


Theoretically such a form exists, and it's called the participio activo. It was extremely common back in the day, and could even take object pronouns.

However in modern Spanish, it's no longer a proper verb form and is really just an adjectival ending. The ending is -ante/(i)ente. The problem that you'll get in using it is that it really only can refer to attributes (things you'd describe with ser) and not states (things you'd describe with estar).

Thus, it's perfectly appropriate to talk about la Bella Durmiente (Sleeping Beauty) or a caballero andante (lit. "walking knight"). But the adjective running needs to be reasonably considered as intrinsic to its being (such as the case would be in a flying squirrel which could be called an ardilla volante1, regardless whether it's in flight at any given moment, or a planta flotante that may or may not have grown large enough to float yet or may have sunk after dying).

In your case, I don't think that running is an intrinsic characteristic (besides which corriente has some other more common uses). Thus the simplest and most universal way to translate that idea is to simply add on a que [verbo].

El perro que corre come.2

Make sure to match tenses

El perro que corría comía

This is very common and also very natural sounding. If you really desire an adjective, you'll have to content yourself with not having a precise rule. Sometimes the ending might be -dor, other times -ado, or some entirely different word. It's only semipredictable. In some very rare cases, you may find -ando/iendo used (!), but these will almost always have been nominalized (turned into nouns).

1. Nowadays, the more common translation is ardilla voladora, but volante has some historical use in scientific literature.
2. If you feel that your statement may be confused for a gnomic verb (stating a generic truth, e.g. "the early bird gets the worm"), you may want to throw it into a progressive, but it's not strictly necessary.

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    Aside: Spanish shows the last stage of deverbalization of the present-active participle; English is in a middle stage, with the -ing form allowed to appear rather freely as a noun modifier, but only alone; in German the so-called "Partizip I" (whose origin is the same as the Spanish active participle) allows full use of arguments, so that the participle can function as the head of a preprended subordinate phrase (as if you said: "The round-the-house-excitedly-running dog eats").
    – pablodf76
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 12:56
  • @pablodf76 - That's lovely. Although I don't think that's a dog I'd want to live in the same house with. // Could you give us the German as well, please? Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 14:26
  • @walen I'd actually view those more as attributes, they're kinda like titles almost. Absolutely agree on está corriendo, I added that footnote precisely because the brevity of the phrase in simple present really made it sound like a refrán :-) Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 14:35
  • @aparente001 I believe that would be »Der um das Haus angeregt herumrennende Hund frisst.«
    – pablodf76
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 16:10
  • 3
    Other examples: agua corriente, aguas danzantes, animales rumiantes
    – Gustavson
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 16:49

No. No es posible.

El "presente progresivo" en español se forma con el verbo estar y con el gerundio del verbo que hace la acción.

Yo estoy hablando contigo

Tú estás leyendo mi post

El gerundio es una forma verbal con valor adverbial. No posee valor adjetivo ni sustantivo, como sí tiene en otras lenguas (como el inglés).

El gerundio debe cumplir tres condiciones para que su uso sea considerado correcto, según este planteamiento normativo:

  • que funcione como adverbio (complemento circunstancial) o como verbo;
  • que exprese acción simultánea o anterior a la del verbo principal, o tan inmediata que se percibe como simultánea;
  • que el sujeto del gerundio sea el mismo que el del verbo principal o tenga un sujeto propio. Con verbos de percepción física el sujeto puede ser el complemento directo del verbo principal. Ejemplo: Vi a los niños jugando.

Enlaces relacionados:

  • Wikilengua: el gerundio
  • El gerundio (especial atención a "Diferencias entre el inglés y el español: El gerundio en español nunca funciona como adjetivo o frase relativa".
  • Please let me know if you need an English translation of any of that.
    – Diego
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 2:21
  • OP's profile says, "Yo hablo un poquito de español," so I think they'd get more out of an answer in English. Plus, the question is in English. Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 2:36

Not the way you proposed, but....

(I have a hard time imagining a dog running and eating at the same time, so allow me to tweak your sentence a little.)

A sleeping dog does not guard the house well.

The closest we can come to this in Spanish is

Un perro, durmiendo, no protege bien la casa.

Note that if we backtranslate, we get

A dog, sleeping, doesn't guard the house well.

A more natural expression than the slightly silly "Un perro, durmiendo" approach:

Un perro dormido no protege bien la casa.

But the pattern does fit well with some other things, for example:

Mi foto de tu perro durmiendo en el sol salió súper bien. | My photo of your dog sleeping in the sun came out great.

Similar to this, I can imagine a caption of a photo, or a title of a painting:

Perro Durmiendo

I do want to be clear that this is not exactly equivalent to "sleeping dog," but rather

Dog, Sleeping


Mostly in addition to what @aparente001 wrote, I'd like to share a very good summary on the correct and incorrect usage of the gerund that I found on the Internet.

In connection with the adjectival use, it is worth noting that, similarly to their use in captions, gerunds can also be used with nouns to describe situations (always with dynamic or action verbs):

  • El salón era un completo desorden: alumnos discutiendo con violencia, muchachas maquillándose con desenfado, estudiantes saliendo y entrando constantemente sin pedir permiso, teléfonos celulares sonando... (The classroom was a complete mess: boys quarrelling violently, girls making themselves up without worries, students coming in and going out all the time without asking for permission, cell phones ringing...)

There is also the interrogative and exclamatory use:

  • ¡Mira! ¡Un águila volando! (Look! An eagle flying!)
  • ¿Riéndome yo? ¡Eso es falso! (Me laughing? That's not true!)

And the use after direct objects, where the gerund functions as an object complement, mainly after verbs of perception:

  • Encontré a la niña llorando desconsoladamente. (I found the girl crying desperately.)

Finally, though colloquial and not strictly correct (a relative clause would be preferred from a grammatical point of view), I'd also add this case of two nouns accompanied by dynamic gerunds in comparative or parallel structures:

  • No requiere la misma atención un niño durmiendo que un niño llorando. (A sleeping child does not require the same care as a crying one.)
  • Un perro comiendo puede ser más peligroso que un perro ladrando. (A dog eating can be more dangerous that one barking.)

The only gerunds that, according to the summary, are accepted are "hirviendo" (boiling) and "ardiendo" (burning), respectively equivalent to the adjectives "hirviente" and "ardiente".

Needless to say, all gerunds functioning as adjectives will be placed after the noun.

  • I'd probably say "regularly placed after the noun" for participios activos. Their intrinsic nature makes it easier, I think, to be front-shifted, like an ardiente deseo/amor. Esponceda even used flotante nube (seems a bit redudant, but... poetry lol). The gerund in front of a noun sounds very weird to me, although I'm sure if I did some looking around I could find some counter examples where maybe it sounds okay. Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 20:11
  • @guifa - I don't think you two are talking about the same thing exactly. Ardiente <> ardiendo. I can't imagine anything containing, in this exact order, flotando nube. Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 21:17
  • @guifa You're right. Corrected.
    – Gustavson
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 21:47
  • @aparente001 We were. There's a difference between a gerundio (flotando) and a participio activo (flotante) Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 21:51

From A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish Chapter 24:

The Spanish gerund is a kind of adverb and it therefore should theoretically not modify nouns...the gerund is usually possible only when there is a verb in the main clause to which it can refer, e.g., me escribió pidiéndome que fuera a verla...But this rule is broken...constantly in spontaneous speech and informal writing.

Some of the examples offered in the book: - in captions to pictures:

  • 'Dos cazas siendo preparados para el despegue'

  • on a sign: 'Hombres trabajando a 400m'

  • '...volvió en sí con el brazo sangrando'

  • '...con la luna ahí colgando para nosotros'

  • 'Tenía mi edad y un hijo viviendo con su mamá'

  • That's an interesting point of view. Could you give us some examples of the rule being broken informally? Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 14:27
  • 1
    Some of the examples offered in the book: - in captions to pictures: 'Dos cazas siendo preparados para el despegue' - on a sign: 'Hombres trabajando a 400m' - '...volvió en sí con el brazo sangrando' - '...con la luna ahí colgando para nosotros' - 'Tenía mi edad y un hijo viviendo con su mamá'
    – PerroViejo
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 19:16

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