The present continuous tense is formed from the present tense of the verb be and the present participle (-ing form) of a verb:

Use

1. We use the present continuous tense to talk about the present:

  • for something that is happening at the moment of speaking:

I’m just leaving work. I’ll be home in an hour.
Please be quiet. The children are sleeping.

  • for something which is happening before and after a given time:

At eight o’clock we are usually having breakfast.
When I get home the children are doing their homework.

 

  • for something which we think is temporary:

Michael is at university. He’s studying history.
I’m working in London for the next two weeks.

  • for something which is new and contrasts with a previous state:

These days most people are using email instead of writing letters.
What sort of clothes are teenagers wearing nowadays? What sort of music are they listening to?

  • to show that something is changing, growing or developing:

The children are growing quickly.
The climate is changing rapidly.
Your English is improving.

  • for something which happens again and again:

It’s always raining in London.
They are always arguing.
George is great. He’s always laughing.

Note: We normally use always with this use.

2. We use the present continuous tense to talk about the future:

  • for something which has been arranged or planned:

Mary is going to a new school next term.
What are you doing next week?

3. We can use the present continuous to talk about the past:

  • When we are telling a story
  • When we are summarising the story from a book, film or play etc.:

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

Hi,

Can you give me some examples about the present continuous to talk about the past?

Thanks...

Hello cumatan,

The fourth sentence in the task shows an example of this. There is a good example from Dickens in the wikipedia article on the Historical present. But this is not used just in literature; people often use the present to talk about a past event in conversations, particularly when they're telling a story. Using the present in this way makes the story seem more alive.

For example, let's say I had an argument with a shop assistant yesterday and I'm still a bit angry about it when I tell the story to a friend. I might say something like: 'And then she tells me that I can't bring my backpack into the shop! I tell her I'm not going to leave my backpack unattended at the shop entrance, because my laptop is inside it. She says I have to so I tell her I'll just take my business elsewhere.' I could use the past simple to narrate this story, but by using the present it seems more real.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello ,
I am having confusion in making sentences for situations where something is happening in the present as a result of something that happened in the past.
For example,
Jan is doing this (now) because he was asked to do so (at some time earlier).
I am going to the party because I got myself registered there.
Are these sentences grammatically correct OR…. Please?

Hello JaneMe,

The verb forms in these sentences are correct, so good work there! There are two small improvements I'd suggest in other areas. First, in the first sentence, use 'it' instead of 'so'. This word is referring to 'this' in the first part of the sentence, and so 'it' makes more sense than 'so'. Second, in the second sentence, we'd probably just say 'I registered there' – the form you use could be possible in some contexts, but the active form is more common in general.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,

Thanks. I like your comments very much.

Best Regards

Thank you once again.

Hello,
Which one is correct? "I'm going home". (or) "I'm going to home".
If "I'm going home" is right, why are we using "I'm going to college". Is this the proper English? If so, why? what is the reason behind this?
Thank You in advance.

Hello chandini,

'I'm going home' is correct. This is because we use 'home' here as an adverb, not a noun. It's similar to 'I'm going outside' or 'I'm going upstairs'. It is possible to use 'home' as a noun, but we use a possessive adjective ('to my home') when we do so.

We say 'I'm going to college' because 'college' is a noun, not an adverb.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear LearnEnglish Team,

First of all I'd like to thank you for everyday big help to us, students and non-native English teachers.

While preparing for the next lesson, I came across the following popular science abstract from the textbook:
"Wind is air moving over land or sea. Air is always moving. It is the sun that makes air move".

The second sentence confused me. I've always thought Present Simple is used for such general truths. But on this webpage I've also read

"for something which is happening before and after a given time:

At eight o’clock we are usually having breakfast.
When I get home the children are doing their homework."

Now I'm in doubt. Could you explain me what the use of Present Continuous in my abstract means, please?

Thanks in advance

Hello Elka0507,

We use the present continuous in a number of ways. One way is to show something which is in progress at a certain time and is repeated or temporary. In this example I would say that if we said 'wind always moves' it might suggest a constant flow. If we say 'wind is always moving' it suggests a constantly changing activity - different directions, speeds and so on.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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