Present Continuous for intermediate learners

The present continuous tense is a basic tense. It is usually one of the first tenses you start to learn when you first start studying English.

"Present Continuous" Tense in English grammar

What is Present Continuous?

The 'present continuous tense' (also known as the 'present progressive') is used in English when we want to talk about an ongoing action taking place in the present moment. It emphasizes that the action is in progress and not yet completed.


To make a 'present continuous' sentence, we have to use the 'to be' verb plus the present participle form of the verb (verb + ing). Let us look at the following examples:

Ariana is practicing cello right now.

His dad is moving to London.

As you can see, the main verb comes after the 'to be' verb.

Just like other sentence structures in English, we can easily turn these statements into negative ones and questions . Let's explore some examples below:

They aren't going to the gym.

Is she talking to me, Jasmine?


Please note that there is no contracted form for the negative first-person singular statements. Carefully look at the example below:

I am not going to the university mom. (Not I amn't going...)


In English, the 'present continuous' tense is used in many different contexts. However, we are going to list some of its main functions below:

  • Actions Happening Now
  • Future Plans and Arrangements
  • Changes and Trends

Actions Happening Now

As mentioned above, the 'present continuous' tense is mainly used to talk about an action continuing in the present moment. Take a look at the examples below:

The teacher is going to the carnival right now.

As you can see, the sentence is about a continuous action in the present moment.

The whole family are dancing at the party.

Future Plans and Arrangements

Another use of the 'present continuous' tense is to talk about future events and plans. When a decision has been made and we are sure that it will happen, we use it. Pay attention to the examples below:

Anna is staying at her grandma's house this weekend.

As you can see, the action will happen in the future.

Samuel and his father are playing the guitar on Christmas Eve.

When something new is introduced and becomes popular, or when there is a change, we mainly use the 'present continuous' form. Look at the examples below:

People are spending more time in cafes nowadays.

As you can see, the sentence is about a change in people's hobbies.

What kind of music are you guys playing?


It is useful to know that you can use the 'present continuous' form to tell a story and narrate it. Look at the following example:

So, I'm wearing my gown when suddenly I hear a horrifying noise from the bathroom. I'm standing there in my room, thinking whether to continue what I'm doing or to go and check the bathroom.


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