{tab=Introduction}

The present continuous tense is used to show an activity that is in progressing or not complete at the time of speaking. The activity started in the past and will go into the future.

The present continuous tense of any verb is formed with the auxiliary verb to be (am, is, are, was, were) and the present participle of the main verb (verb + ing). The auxiliary verb varies according to the person used with the present continuous tense.

Examples:

  • am eating a chicken pie for lunch.
  • She is reading some magazines on preparing French dishes.
  • The sisters are walking out after a row with their boyfriends.
  • Police were looking through a pile of papers in the office for evidence. 

 

We use the present continuous tense:

for an action that is still happening at the time of speaking.

Examples:

  • He is taking drugs for depression.
  • She is trimming her nails now.

 

for an action in the future without specifying when.

Examples:

  • Her mother is cooking a meal of chicken and potatoes for dinner.
    (It's still early in the day, and her mother is not cooking now. She will cook for dinner later in the evening.)
  • I am going to complain to the council about this!

 

to talk about a planned or an arranged action that is to take place at a particular time in the future.

Examples:

  • We are performing magic tricks on stage in two weeks.
  • She is running in the big race on Saturday..

 

for an action that is going on but not necessary at the time of speaking.

Examples:

  • Jack is teaching at a secondary boys' school.
    (Jack is a teacher at the school, but he is not actually teaching now. He may be watching television at the moment of speaking.)
  • Jill is studying Italian in college.
    (Jill is pursuing a course in Italian, but she's not doing any studying now. She is playing with her cat.)

 

for a changing or evolving situation.

Examples:

  • Pollution is causing global warming.
  • They are hailing it as the new wonder drug.

 

to describe a repeated action that the speaker finds irritating.

Examples:

  • The noise is beginning to irritate me.
  • She is moaning to me again that she hasn't got enough money.  

 

with an adverb such as always, constantly, forever, etc to describe an action that happens many times or frequently.

Examples:

  • My old car is always breaking down.
  • She is constantly reminding me to pay back the money I owe her.
  • He is forever making unfavourable comments about his mother-in-law.

 

There are main verbs, generally action verbs that are not normally used in the present continuous tense. These are verbs of perception, verbs used with the five senses, or verbs used to describe states.

Examples:

  • Wrong: I am liking Indian food.
    Right: I like Indian food. 
  • Wrong: I am deciding to go along with them.
    Right: I decide to go along with them.

 

In questions, the auxiliary to be (am/is/are/was/were) comes before the subject, and the subject is followed by the present participle of the main verb (am/is/are/were + subject + verb-ing).

Examples:

  • Am I fatter than you?
  • Is the boss taking us out for dinner?
  • Are those kittens playing in my garden yours?
  • Was your dog barking at nothing again?

 

In answer to question, the auxiliary verb is commonly used without the main verb. 

Examples:

  • Am I eating more than you? Answer: Yes, you are.
  • Is the boss taking us out for dinner? Answer: No, he isn’t. / No, he is not.
  • Are those kittens playing in my garden yours? Answer: Yes, they are.
  • Was your dog barking at nothing again? No, it wasn’t. / No, it was not.

 

We use the present continuous tense in the following ways.

Examples:

  • Statement – we place the auxiliary verb to be is placed (am/is/are/etc) after the subject: I am shaving.
  • Negative –the negative word not is placed after the verb to be (am/is/are/etc) and usually in contracted forms (isn’t /aren’t/wasn’t/weren’t): He is not sleeping. / He isn’t sleeping.
  • Question – the auxiliary verb to be (am/is/are/etc) is placed before the subject: Are they coming here?