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.:



Dear sir :
what is difference between
something that happens again and again in the present
and something which happens again and again
can i say
They always argue
They are always arguing
is these same meaning?

Hi nkmg,

'always' is commonly used with the present continuous to express the idea that something happens too often or more often than normal. So 'they're always arguing' implies that the speaker thinks they argue too much or more than normal. 'They always argue' is more a simple statement of fact, with no commentary.

Note that this is similar to your other question about present continuous and present simple. The use of the continuous aspect implies a perspective on the action.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

I'll be home in a one hour or in an one hour?

Hello Ujma,

Neither is correct. The correct version is: 'I'll be home in an hour.'

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


Can you please explain point no 3 we can use the present continues to talk about the past i didn't understand it

Hi Rasha2,

Usually we use past forms for telling stories:

I woke up and got out of bed. Then had a wash, got dressed and went downstairs for breakfast.

However, it is also quite common to use present forms (simple and continuous, as appropriate) in order to make the story sound more immediate and bring it to life, especially if the story is an anecdote or a joke:

So anyway, listen to this. I wake up and get out of bed. Then have a wash, get dressed and go downstairs for breakfast, and you'll never guess what happens next...

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi all,
Which is correct? and why?
- "Sorry, I don't understand, what are you asking for."
- "Sorry, I don't understand, what you are asking for."

Hello yh24,

The first one is correct because the word order in indirect questions is different. Please see our reported questions page for an explanation of this.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,
Thanks for your prompt reply. I know the verb form of these sentences but I don't understand the exact meaning of them and how to use it.
(Ex: He lived in London -> Its mean: He lived in London in the past and He doesn't live London now)

Kindly help me to understand clearly about these sentences

Thanks again for your help