Present Continuous Tense

Present Continuous Tense

Forming the present continuous

  • The present continuous of any verb is composed of two parts – the present tense of the verb to be + the present participle of the main verb.

    (The form of the present participle is: base + ing, e.g. talking, playing, moving, smiling)

  • Affirmative
    Subject + to be + base + ing
    She is talking.

  • Negative
    Subject + to be + not + base + ing
    She is not (isn’t) talking

  • Interrogative
    to be + subject + base + ing
    Is she talking?
    Examples: TO GO, present continuous

  • Affirmative           Negative                Interrogative
    I am going             I am not going      Am I going?
    You are going       You aren’t going. Are you going?

  • He, she, it is going He, she, it isn’t going Is he, she, it going?
    We are going         We aren’t going     Are we going?
    You are going       You aren’t going   Are you going?
    They are going      They aren’t going Are they going?

  • Note: alternative negative contractions: I’m not going, you’re not going, he’s not going etc.

  • Functions of the present continuous
    As with all tenses in English, the speaker’s attitude is as important as the time of the action or event.
  • When someone uses the present continuous, they are thinking about something that is unfinished or incomplete

  • The present continuous is used:
    to describe an action that is going on at this moment:
  • You are using the Internet. You are studying English grammar.
    to describe an action that is going on during this period of time or a trend: Are you still working for the same company?
  • More and more people are becoming vegetarian.

  • to describe an action or event in the future, which has already been planned or prepared: We’re going on holiday tomorrow. I’m meeting my boyfriend tonight. Are they visiting you next winter?

  • to describe a temporary event or situation: He usually plays the drums, but he’s playing bass guitar tonight.
  • The weather forecast was good, but it’s raining at the moment.
    with “always, forever, constantly”, to describe and emphasise a continuing series of repeated actions: Harry and Sally are always arguing! You’re constantly complaining about your mother-in-law!

  • Be careful: Some verbs are not usually used in the continuous form
    Verbs that are not usually used in the continuous form

  • The verbs in the list below are normally used in the simple form because they refer to states, rather than actions or processes.


  • Senses / perception
    to feel*
    to hear
    to see*
    to smell
    to taste
    Opinion
    to assume
    to believe
    to consider
    to doubt
    to feel (= to think)
    to find (= to consider)
    to suppose
    to think*

  • Mental states
    to forget
    to imagine
    to know
    to mean
    to notice
    to recognise
    to remember
    to understand

  • Emotions / desires
    to envy
    to fear
    to dislike
    to hate
    to hope
    to like
    to love
    to mind
    to prefer
    to regret
    to want
    to wish

  • Measurement
    to contain
    to cost
    to hold
    to measure
    to weigh
    Others
    to look (=resemble)
    to seem
    to be (in most cases)
    to have (when it means “to possess”)*

  • Exceptions
    Perception verbs (see, hear, feel, taste, smell) are often used with can: I can see… These verbs may be used in the continuous form but with a different meaning

    This coat feels nice and warm. (your perception of the coat’s qualities)

  • John’s feeling much better now (his health is improving)
  • She has three dogs and a cat. (possession)
  • She’s having supper. (She’s eating
  • I can see Anthony in the garden (perception)

All English Tenses

English Tenses: YouTube Video