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.:




Hello, I have a question too. In the sentence "Do you always listen to the radio when you are driving?" why is it "you are driving" (present continuous) since it is talking about every time somebody drives?

Hello georgia.gram,

The question is asking about one action (listen to the radio) which takes place during another action (driving), and so the contrinuous form is used. It assumes that the driving goes on for some time and the listening is inside that time.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi all,
The above questions and answers are very relevant and helpful. They make me feel more confident in using English and enyoy the subtlety of a language I'm trying hard to master.

I have a question:

Present Simple: He always talks nonsense.

Present Continuous: He is always talking nonsense.

Both talk about something happens again and again. How to differentiate this?


Hello wengsun85,

In general, the present simple is used to speak about repeated actions. But if this repeated action is also occurring around the time of speaking, the present continuous is also sometimes used. In your examples, the second sentence would imply that the person is talking nonsense in that moment or has done so recently.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Kirk for your previous reply.

That makes me think of another question:

Present Continuous is used to talk about the future for something which has been planned. Same goes for Present Simple. So what's the difference?

For instance,
a) We fly to Paris next week.
b) We are flying to Paris next week.


Hello wengsun85,

Generally speaking, the present continuous is used for things which have been arranged and agreed between people, while the present simple is used to describe timetabled, fixed or regular events.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team


Can I use Present Simple when I telling a story or only Present Continuous?

Hello Lucifer7,

Yes, this is quite common. In such cases, the present simple is usually used to describe events and the present continuous is used to supply background information. For example, 'So I'm walking down the street and this police officer comes up to me. 'Come with me', she says ...'

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

I find the answer in comments site. thx
...or should i say: ''I have find the answer in comments site''?