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

Hello learnenglish tram. Please, forgive me if i've been asking you too many questions, recently.
Today, my question is about when to use simple present continuous and when to use present perfect continuous(if my sentence is about something that happened several times in the past ans continues)
I've read a comment of Peter in wich he said that if the sentence contains words that carry meaning of and (like until), we would not use present perfect continuous. But if not, what should we do ? For exemple, these following sentences: "I have been watching that program every week" and "i am watching that program every week".
Please, could you tell me if both have The same meaning. If the answer is no , then please, give me cases in wich we can say each sentence.
Thank you
JAU20

Hello JAU20,

To describe something which you do regularly and which is part of your normal routine then the present simple is normally used:

I watch that program every week.

 

It is possible to use the present perfect continuous but it requires a very specific context. You would need to have a situation in which you did not watch the programme, then began watching the programme every week and still do so, but do not see this as something which you will continue doing permanently.

I have been watching that program every week.

 

The present continuous is very unlikely to be used here. While it may be possible to construct a context in which its use could be justified (something which is being done as a temporary habit for some reason) the exercise would not really have any point and would likely cause confusion rather than elucidation. Generally I think it's better to focus on what you want to say rather than looking for extremely unusual examples of usage of particular forms.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Than you very much for your good explanations, Peter.
But, i dont understand very well why the present continuous is unlikely to be used here. In my example, i want to say that i like the program very much and because it appears every week, i wacth it every week. In comparaison to the sentence, "He is always laughing", i thought that i could also say " I am watching that program, every week."
thank you,
JAU20

Hello jau20,

The context is key here. If we are describing regular, typical behaviour then we generally use the present simple. We would use the present continuous only when we want to emphasise something about the action. For example, if this is a new habit which is not something we have done previously, and which we may stop doing at some point, then we might use the present continuous to emphasise its temporary nature. Take a look at these examples:

I go to school by bike. [my normal routine]

I'm going to school by bike. [at the moment, because my car is at the mechanic's this week]

 

The example of 'He's always laughing' is quite specific. This use of the present continuous generally has a representative function. In other words, we use the present continuous when the behaviour or action is somehow representative of the character of the actor: London is a wet city, the couple have a difficult relationship, George is a cheerful chap and so on. The present continuous is used for actions which tell us something about the nature of the actor.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello team,
We can use both simple present and present continuous to talk about something happens again and again; so how can I differentiate which tense is more suitable related to the sentence?

Hello masri.ahm04,

In general, the present simple is probably the best choice. In other words, if in doubt, use the present simple. The present continuous, as explained above, is usually used specifically with the word 'always' and it also often indicates a sense of dissatisfaction with the statement.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

and what about my examples with "NY"?

Please guide me towards right direction of using is and are?
The bestest place to live is heart and the finest place to die are arms.
Is this right sentence or not,kindly suggest me the right one,if did wrong.

Hello Mandeep Kaur,

If you use an online spell checker, you'll see that 'bestest' is not spelt correctly -- it should be 'best'. The sentence sounds a bit awkward because of the way the two body parts are phrased. I'd say 'the heart' and 'in someone's arms' or something similar for the last part.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,

Mary is going to a new school next term. - Currently Mary is not going to school ,she will go school in Next term,Action will be taken in Future so why we use it in Present Continues tense ? Can you please Clarify me.

thanks,

Pages