present continuous


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


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.:



Sir,I have a question regarding the statement:"At eight o’clock we are usually having breakfast."
Why can't we write the statement like this:"At eight o’clock we usually have our breakfast."

Hello souravsaha1605,

The present simple is the more commonly used tense here, as it is used to talk about repeated or habitual actions. Talking about a repeated action (as in your sentence) using the present continuous gives an additional layer of meaning, as if we were viewing the action happening right now. It is therefore often used to contrast with the present time, e.g. today we are having lunch at 8 (presumably because we woke up at 2am) whereas usually we are having breakfast at 8.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, is there anyway the sentence, "I am walking to school every morning," is correct or should we only use Present Simple for that?

Thank you in advance.

thank you for this tutorial
I get confused a little bit, you said that we use present continuous to talk about past with story and when summarizing the story from a book, film or play other site states that we use present simple when talking about story and play for example " the hero dies at the end of the story"
can you please tell me which is the true ?
and please tell me if I made a grammatical mistakes in this comment :)
many thanks and best regards

Hello MadSyria,

You can see a few examples of these uses of the present simple and present continuous in the exercises. Both present simple and present continuous can be used to tell a story in the past. By using a present tense to talk about the past, the story often feels more real – it's as if we are witnessing the story in that past time. We use the present simple to talk about something that is always true or habits and the present continuous to talk about things that are developing, etc. 

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

please explain to me aboout these sentence, where is the right sentence ?

i see john playing football. (this pettern in some article)

i see john is playing football.

Hello wahyueko,

Both sentences are correct but are used for different purposes. In the first you are simply describing an action that you see in progress. In the second you are describing something that you see in progress, but also calling attention to it. The second sentence would make more sense, for example, if you didn't expect to see John playing, or if you wanted someone else to see that John is back on the pitch.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I don't think this sentence can be used, but my colleague thinks otherwise. Please could you help me explain?

'We are continuing to have a fabulous reaction to our shabby chic home and giftware since we met you at the show with exciting new pieces being added all the time.'