Present Continuous Tense in English grammar
The present continuous tense is a basic tense. It is usually one of the first tenses you start to learn when you start studying English.
The present continuous (also called the present progressive), is a grammatical tense used in modern English that indicates that an action is happening now and may continue into the future.
Present Continuous: Structure
The present continuous is composed of two parts: the present simple of the verb 'to be' + the present participle of the main verb (verb + -ing).
|Subject||verb to be||Present Participle|
Present Continuous: Negation
With the exception of 'am not', you can contract the other conjugated forms of be (is, are) in the negative form.
Present Continuous: Questions
Just like we made the question with 'be' in the present simple, here we also put 'am', 'is', or 'are' before the subject to make a 'yes /no' question:
For 'wh' questions, we just put the question word at the front, then make the yes/no question.
Present Participle: Spelling Rules
We make the Present Participle by adding -ing to the verb. Normally we just add -ing. But sometimes we have to change the word a little. Here are the rules to help you know how to spell the Present Participle:
- If the verb ends in consonant + stressed vowel + consonant, double the last letter.
- If the verb ends in consonant + unstressed vowel + consonant, (the base verb is not stressed) do not double the last letter.
open → opening
- If the verb ends in 'ie', change the 'ie' to 'y'.
- If the verb ends in vowel + consonant + 'e', omit the 'e'.
Present Continuous: Uses
When someone uses the present continuous, they are thinking about:
Actions Happening Now
- We can use present continuous tense to talk about an action happening exactly now.
- We can use present continuous tense to talk about an action that is taking place around now but not at the exact moment of speech.
- We use present continuous tense to talk about something which we think is temporary.
Future Plans or Arrangements
- We can use present continuous tense to talk about an action or event in the future, which has already been planned.
Changes and Trends
- We use present continuous tense to describe an action or a trend which is new and contrasts with a previous state.
- We use present continuous tense to talk about something which is changing, growing or developing.
- We use present continuous tense with 'always, forever, constantly' to talk about something which happens again and again emphasizing a continuing series of repeated actions.
Story-telling and Narration
- We can use the present continuous to talk about the past when we are telling a story.
- We can use the present continuous to talk about the past when summarizing a book, film or play.
When Not to Use Present Continuous Tense
We do not normally use the continuous with stative verbs (also called non-continuous verbs). These verbs are normally used in the simple form because they refer to states, rather than actions or progresses. Some examples of these verbs are to have, to know, to want, to cost.