Present continuous

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The present continuous tense is one of the continuous tenses in English. (Continuous tenses are: present continuous, past continuous, and future continuous.)

The present continuous (also called "present progressive") tense mainly describes actions that are in progress at the time of speaking.

Forms[change | change source]

Affirmative sentences[change | change source]

Affirmative sentences in the present continuous are formed using verb be (am / is / are) + base verb-ing.

  • I am eating.
  • She is eating.
  • He is eating.
  • It is eating.
  • We are eating.
  • You are eating.
  • They are eating.

The short forms 'm, 's, 're can be used in informal situations and in speech.

Negative sentences[change | change source]

Negative sentences are formed by adding not (or the short form n't) to the verb be.

  • I am not eating.
  • She isn't eating.
  • He is not eating.
  • It is not eating.
  • We aren't eating.
  • You are not eating.
  • They aren't eating.

Questions[change | change source]

Yes / No question are formed using Verb be (Am / Is /Are) + subject + base verb-ing.

Wh-questions begin with one of the wh-question words.

(Wh-question words are: what, where, when, why, who, which, whose, how.)

  • Am I eating your pizza?
  • Are you having fun?
  • Is she sleeping now?
  • Is it raining outside?
  • Why is she crying?
  • When are they coming?

Uses[change | change source]

Present continuous verbs are used to describe the following situations.

Actions happening now or around now[change | change source]

  • I am fixing the broken chair right now.
  • The baby is sleeping at the moment.
  • She is taking a course in Spanish this semester.

Future actions[change | change source]

  • We are getting married soon.
  • He is seeing the dentist in the afternoon.
  • They are moving to their new apartment next month.

Repeated actions[change | change source]

Adverbs like always are used in this structure to imply that the speaker is irritated or annoyed by the action, or that the action was unplanned or unexpected.

  • She is always complaining about her children.
  • He is forever losing his keys.
  • I'm always meeting her in the hallway.

Changing or developing actions[change | change source]

  • Prices are rising these days.
  • Her hair is growing very fast.
  • Nowadays, more people are using social media to promote their businesses.

Non-continuous verbs[change | change source]

Non-continuous (or state verbs) are a group of verbs that describe state rather than action. They are not used in the continuous form. Instead, the present simple tense is used instead.

  • I don't understand these formulas.
  • They know what has to be done.
  • I believe we should revise the plans. (NOT am believing)

Some verbs can be used as state verbs and action (or dynamic) verbs, but with different meanings.

  • The chef is tasting the food. (action verb)
  • The food tastes great. (NOT is tasting; state verb)
  • She is looking at you. (action verb)
  • It looks gorgeous! (NOT is looking; state verb)
  • I'm having lunch with my sisters. (action verb)
  • I have two sisters. (NOT am having; state verb)