Present Continuous Tense in English grammar

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.

Present Continuous Tense in English grammar

Present Continuous

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
I am reading
you/we/they are buying
He/she/it is walking

Present Continuous: Negation

For negative sentences we put 'not' between the auxiliary verb 'to be' and the main verb.

He is reading . → He is not reading .

They are sleeping . → They are not sleeping .

With the exception of 'am not', you can contract the other conjugated forms of be (is, are) in the negative form.

They are not sleeping . → They aren't sleeping .

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:

He is working . → Is he working ?

We are meeting at six . → Are we meeting at six ?

For 'wh' questions, we just put the question word at the front, then make the yes/no question.

He is working in the morning . → When is he working ?

We are meeting them at six . → Who are we meeting ?

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.

stop → stopping

run → running

  • 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'.

lie → lying

die → dying

  • If the verb ends in vowel + consonant + 'e', omit the 'e'.

come → coming

mistake → mistaking

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.

You are studying English grammar .

He is laughing .

  • 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.

I am living with my sister until I find an apartment .

He is working in Dubai .

  • We use present continuous tense to talk about something which we think is temporary.

Ellen cannot come to the phone since she is sleeping .

I'm working in London for the next two weeks .

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.

What are you doing next week ?

I'm visiting my parents this Christmas .

  • We use present continuous tense to describe an action or a trend which is new and contrasts with a previous state.

What sort of music are they listening to ?

These days most people are using email instead of writing letters .

  • We use present continuous tense to talk about something which is changing, growing or developing.

The climate is changing rapidly .

Your English is improving .

Frequent Actions

  • 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.

They are always arguing .

You're constantly complaining about your mother-in-law !

Story-telling and Narration

  • We can use the present continuous to talk about the past when we are telling a story.

The other day I'm just walking down the street when suddenly Sam calls me and asks me to come visit her . So I'm thinking when I should go .

  • We can use the present continuous to talk about the past when summarizing a book, film or play.

One day when Alice is talking to the mad hatter , she sees a strange animal in the forest . She thinks what is happening ...

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.

She has three dogs and a cat .

This pizza tastes wonderful .

You might also like

Present Simple

You do things like brushing your teeth or eating lunch everyday. If you want to talk about actions or events that you do routinely you can use present simple.

Read more

Past Simple

Past simple tense is one of the most exciting and important tenses in English verb tenses. We use it so often to talk about what happened before now.

Read more

Future Simple

In this lesson, you will learn the easiest way to talk about the future in English, and that is by using the word ‘will’.

Read more

Past Continuous

The past continuous tense is used quite often in English, so let’s understand exactly when to use it and how to use it. Are you ready? Let’s begin.

Read more

Future Continuous

The future continuous tense is used by native English speakers quite often and this is your chance to learn and understand this tense and to start to use it.

Read more

Present Perfect

The present perfect is the first of the advance tenses. By using present perfect tense, you will definitely be able to speak and write at a much higher level.

Read more