Present Continuous Tense            (or Present Progressive)

How to Use the Present Continuous Tense

We use the Present Continuous for:

1. Something happening now, at the moment of speaking

We use the present continuous tense for an action that is happening now. The action is in progress at the moment of speaking.

  • Can I call you later? I’m driving now.
  • Sssh, be quiet! Baby is sleeping.
  • Please don’t disturb. I’m studying English now.
  • Hurry up! We are waiting for you!
  • Look at the boys there! They are dancing.

For the actions happening at the moment of speaking, we can use the time expressions now, right now and at the moment.

  • I'm watching MasterChef now.
  • She's taking an online English class at the moment.
  • I'm talking on the phone with Sally right now.

2. Temporary Situations

We use the present continuous tense for things that are happening only for some period of  time. These are temporary things. Temporary things do not last for a long time, they may end or change. When we don't expect things to continue for a long time, then we use the present continuous tense.

For permanent things that last for ever without a change we use the simple present tense.

  • Shes working at a local coffee shop this month.
  • I’m in London for a language course. I’m staying with my aunt until I find an apartment.
  • He’s taking taekwondo classes these days.
  • My car is at the mechanic. I’m cycling to work this week.
  • Currently, we're working on a big project.

For temporary things we use the time expressions this week, this year, these days, nowadays, currently with the present continuous tense.

3. Future Arrangements

These are the plans we have arranged to do. The arrangements are definite. They are usually the arrangements for the future that we write on our diaries.

  • We’re flying to Mexico this Saturday. (We’ve already bought the ticket.)
  • I’m moving to California next weekend. (I packed almost all of my stuff, hired an apartment in California and I’m ready to go.)
  • We’re having a meeting at work on Monday. (The boss emailed all the staff about the meeting, it’s scheduled.)
  • I'm going on holiday this Friday. (I bought my ticket and  arranged my hotel.)

How to Form the Present Continuous Tense

Positive Sentences (+)

We use am/is/are after the subject and then add -ing to the base form of the verb to form the Present Continuous Tense.

subject + am/is/are + V+ing

I am working now.

You are working now.

He/she/it is working now.

We /you/they are working now.


Positive Short Forms

I’m working now.

You’re working now.

He’s working now.

She’s working now.                  

It’s working now.

We’re working now.

You’re working now.

They’re working now.

Negative Sentences (-)

We only add not after am/is/are to make negative sentences in present continuous tense.

subject + am/is/are  not + V +ing

I am not working now.                         

You are not working now.                               

He/she/it is not working now.                                                

We/you/they are not working now.    

Negative Short Forms

I am not working now.                    

You aren't working now.                    

He/she/it isn't working now.                                           

We/you/they aren't working now.       

Note:There is no short form for 'am not'. You cannot say amn't.

Questions (?)

Yes / No Questions 

To form Yes/No questions with the present continuous tense, we use  am,is,are at the beginning of the question before the subject.

Am/is/are + subject + V+ing?

Am I working now?

Are you working now?

Is he/she/it working now?

Are we/you/they working now?

Wh- Questions

To form questions with the question words what,who, when,etc. we use the question words at the beginning of the question before am/is/are.

What are you studying now?

Who are they talking to?

Why are you laughing?

Where is she going?

When are we leaving?

Ready to Practice?

Click here to try an exercise to practice the present continuous tense positive forms.

Click here to try an exercise to practice the present continuous tense questions.

Click here to try an exercise to practice the present continuous tense mixed forms.

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