Spanish non-finite verb forms / Formas no personales del verbo

Learn easy Spanish non-finite verb forms. Visit

1. Definition
2. The infinitive
3. The gerund
4. The participle

1. Definition


     The non-finite verb forms are invariable non conjugated forms. The only form that can change in number and gender is the participle when it is used as an adjective. But when it is used to form the perfect tenses (with the verb haber), it remains invariable.

Form              Type                            Examples

Comer / To eat.
Perfect ( haber + participle)
Haber comido / To have eaten.
Comiendo / Eating.

Perfect ( habiendo + participle)
Habiendo comido / Having eaten.
Only one form.
Comido / Eaten.

As perfect non-finite verb forms are scarcely used, we are going to focus on the simple forms.

2. The infinitive

The infinitive (infinitivo) is the basic form of the verb.

 Conjugation                    Example

1st: ending in –ar
Am-ar (to love)
2nd: ending in –er
Com-er (to eat)
3rd: ending in –ir
Viv-ir (to live)

 Frequent uses                               Examples

Reírse es bueno para la salud / Laughing is healthy.
Querer es poder / Where there’s a will there’s a way.
Calló al entrar él /  He/she stopped talking when he went in. 
Es fácil de hacer / It’s easy to do.
Me gusta mirarte / I like looking at you.
Quisiera habértelo dicho antes / I wish I had told you before.

As you can see, Spanish infinitive is very often translated as a gerund in English. Notice the unstressed personal pronouns attached to the verb ending. 

3. The gerund

The gerund (gerundio)  usually refers to the duration of an action or state. It is not as usual in Spanish as in English.

Conjugation                     Example

1st: ending in –ando
Am-ando (loving)
2nd: ending in –iendo/          -yendo*
Com-iendo (eating)         
3rd: ending in –iendo/         -yendo*
Viv-iendo (living)

  Verbs ending in vowel + -er/-ir form their gerund in –yendo.

   Frequent uses                                Examples

Verb phrase (with a conjugated auxiliar verb)
Estoy leyendo / I’m reading.
Sigo pensando en ti / I’m still thinking of you.
Previous or simultaneous action
Como viendo la tele / I’m watching tv while I’m eating.
Oyendo el ruido, salí / On hearing the noise, I went out.
¿Has venido corriendo? / Have you come running?

4. The participle

The participle (participio) is invariable ONLY when it is used with the verb haber to form the perfect tenses. In the rest of the cases, it agrees in gender and number with the noun it refers to.

Conjugation              Example

1st: ending in –ado
Am-ado (loved)
2nd: ending in –ido
Com-ido (eaten)    
3rd: ending in –ido
Viv-ido (lived)

    Frequent uses                                Examples

To form perfect tenses (with the verb haber)
Hoy ha llovido mucho / Today there has been heavy rain.
¿Ha llegado Ana? / Has Ana arrived?
Estaba agotada / I was exhausted.
Voy a comer huevos cocidos / I’m going to eat hard boiled eggs.  


This is the only participle used in current Spanish. The ancient present participle (ending in –nte) acts nowadays as an adjective or a noun. Please, take care not to confound it with the English gerund and present participle, which are written the same way. You will see that Spanish non conjugated forms use is quite simple.

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