Learning Materials Lessons

English Tense 2 of 12: The Present Continuous

July 1, 2013

The students in the above photo are playing volleyball. 

It is time for the second of 12 lessons on the 12 English tenses! Have you checked out last month’s lesson on the Simple Present? You might be surprised to find a new use of the Simple Present that you didn’t know before!

July’s tense is the Present Continuous. It’s form is:

[am/is/are + present participle]

 

The Present Continuous is used for the following things:

  • to talk about something happening at this moment (or something that is NOT happening at this moment)
  • to talk about something that is planned to happen in the near future
  • to talk about a much longer action that is happening at this time in your life
  • to complain about someone’s habits or actions

Let’s take a look at each of these!

Uses of the Present Continuous

1. To talk about something happening at this moment (or something that is NOT happening at this moment)

  • I am reading. 
  • My roommate is listening to music.
  • The girl is singing.
  • We are laughing.
  • The kids are running.

2. To talk about something that is planned to happen in the near future

  • We are leaving at 10 am tomorrow. 
  • The bus is leaving in five minutes!
  • I am going home in one month.

3. To talk about a much longer action that is happening at this time in your life

  • I am living in San Diego. 
  • He is living in San Francisco.
  • We are studying at CISL.
  • She is taking the CISL TOEFL course.
  • I am trying to perfect my English skills at Converse.

4. To complain about someone’s habits or actions (used with “always)

  • My neighbor is always playing her music so loudly!
  • She is always talking when I am trying to study.
  • He is always texting when I am trying to talk to him!

Notes on the Present Continuous:

Don’t forget that this tense is also called the “Present Progressive.”

Remember that this tenses cannot be used with Non-Action verbs. Non-Action verbs are verbs that don’t express action, like “think” or “like” or “love.” These verbs should (in general) not be used as “ing” verbs.

To learn more about Non-Action verbs, check out our post on their uses and rules!.

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