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Everything You Need to Know About Present Continuous

The Present Continuous Tense denotes an action occurring right now (in the present). This tense is sometimes called the Present Progressive Tense because the action is implied in the process.

Nina Stankovic
Nina Stankovic

The Present Continuous Tense is built from the verb “to be” in the Present Simple Tense, i.e., am/is/are + Present Participle of the main verb.

We form the present participle when the ending “-ing” is added to the infinitive:

To go—going;
To sleep—sleeping;
To work—working.

If the verb ends in one consonant preceded by a short, stressed vowel, we double the final consonant before -ing:

To hit—hitting;
To stop—stopping;
To permit—permitting;
To begin—beginning.

If the verb ends in -e, the -e is lost, and the suffix -ing is added:

To come—coming;
To make—making;
To take—taking.

If the verbs end in -ie, the suffix -ie, changes to -y, and the suffix -ing is added:

To die—dying;
To lie—lying.

The Usage of the Present Continuous Tense

The Present Continuous Tense is used for:

  • An activity that occurs at the time of speech is frequently followed by the tenses now and at the time:
She is reading a book at the moment.
Look! She is dancing.
  • For fixed plans, agreements, or actions that are certain to happen shortly, we will use this tense:
I am visiting my sister next weekend.
She is traveling to Italy next month.
  • Situations that are currently changing and developing:
The number of thieves is increasing.
I am monitoring the situation closely.
  • If you want to express anger and rage, this is the right time for you! It is usually an action that is constantly repeated, over and over again. The expressions always and constantly are helpful.
You are always forgetting to close the door.
Suzan is always overlooking her mistakes.
  • To explain some new trend that contradicts the previous trends:
These days most teenagers are listening to hip hop rather than rock.
Nowadays, younger generations are enjoying music on the internet rather than on the radio.
  • We also use it for temporary actions: this week/month/summer, etc.:
I am working in Seoul this month.
Marco is performing in France this summer.
  • There is a possibility to use this time for the past action, but only if we are retelling a story or analyzing a book, movie, etc.
I am never going camping with you again!

The formula for Present Continuous

Present Continuous and all other tenses that contain “continuous” in their name belong to complex tenses.

In our case, we use the auxiliary verb TO BE in the Present Simple Tense and the Present Participle of the main verb:

TO BE + main verb + ING

Which type of verb is NOT used in the Present Continuous tense?

Some verbs mean action, and those that denote a state, can’t be used in the Continuous Tense. In English, action verbs are Action Verbs, and states are Stative Verbs.

Stative Verbs are verbs that describe a state rather than an action and, therefore, cannot be used for ongoing actions, regardless of whether the state is taking place at the moment of speaking.

We do not use state verbs in the Present Continuous!

These verbs include abstract verbs, verbs related to belonging, describing emotions and feelings, etc.

Here are some examples:

“To see,” “to hear,” “to taste,” “to feel,” “to look,” “to sound,” “to know,” “to believe,” “to understand,” “to realize,” “to remember,” “to forget,” etc.

The English language would not be English if there were no exceptions.

These exceptions include state verbs that can be used in the Present Continuous because they describe an action rather than a state.

  1. They have a swimming pool. (In the sense that they own that pool.)
  2. They are having a wonderful holiday. (In the sense that they are enjoying their vacation.)
  3. The chicken tastes delicious. (It means taste, smell.)
  4. The chef is tasting the soup. (In the sense of checking if the soup is good enough.)

It includes verbs such as: “to be,” “to think,” “to look,” “to see,” “to feel,” “to smell,” “to appear,” and “to fit.”

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What is the Present Continuous Tense? Summary

As mentioned above, there are three main things to know.

1. When does the activity take place? The Present Continuous Tense denotes an action occurring right now (in the present). This tense is sometimes called the Present Progressive Tense because the action is implied in the process.

2. How is it created? The verb form of the Present Continuous Tense is formed using the verb “to be” (present tense) and am/is/are + verb ending “-ing.”

Consider the example sentence, “I am writing a letter.” A sentence whose action is taking place is “Now I am writing a letter.” The verb predicate is the word “I write,” and we must put it in the Present Continuous Tense. Since the subject is “I,” we take the form of the verb “am” and add the ending to the verb predicate to write. As a result, we get the sentence “I am writing a letter.”

3. What is an auxiliary verb? An auxiliary verb is needed to form the interrogative (?) and negative (-) forms of all English verb tenses and to form the affirmative (+) form of some English verb tenses. For the Present Continuous Tense, the auxiliary verb is “to be,” which forms am/is/are.

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Nina Stankovic

I have a Master's Degree in Physics and a Bachelor's Degree in Natural Science. I have a general interest in technology, the environment, travel, and spirituality.

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