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

Sir,

I confused here on the usage between present simple and continuous.

point of my confusion is "At eight o’clock we are usually having breakfast." it seems like routine habitual action ,why we have used present continuous rather a present simple?.

light something on it sir.

Thanks in advance,
Abdul haq.

Hello abdulhaqcivil1,

The description on the page explains this. We use the present continuous for something which is happening before and after a given time.

 

Compare the following:

At eight o’clock we usually have breakfast.

At eight o’clock we are usually having breakfast.

In the first sentence breakfast starts at eight o'clock - this is our normal time to have the meal.

In the second sentence we learn that at eight o'clock we are usually in the middle of breakfast. Perhaps it starts at 7.45, for example - we do not know.

The continuous aspect here is used to show things are in progress and incomplete at a certain time.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

There is a specific usage of present continuous, where it follows a simple present verb, e.g. "I can't remember doing this", "I love doing that", "She hates working" etc. Is there a rule behind this that could explain how to follow it? Does that rule apply to "I look forward to seeing you" (or its mutations)?

Hello Asarhaddon,

'doing' and 'working' in your three example sentences are -ing forms (which are not the same as the present continuous). When we use a verb after another verb, the first verb often determines what form the second verb goes in. In the case of 'remember', 'love' and 'hate', the second verb often goes in the -ing form. Other verbs require a bare infinitive (e.g. 'let' or 'make') and others require a to + infinitive (e.g. 'want'). If you follow the links you can read more about this.

'look forward to' is a little bit different. In this case, 'to' is a preposition (not part of an infinitive). Verbs that come after prepositions always go in the -ing form, which is why we say 'look forward to doing' and not 'look forward to do'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you a lot for your answer, Kirk, it is very informative!

Hello Dear,

I would like to ask a question. When I would like to say something happens again and again should I use the present simple form or continuous form? and why?

Hello Mustafa,

Our talking about the present page discusses this a bit -- really it depends on how you see it. If you're speaking about a habit, for example, the present simple is the form you should use ('I eat breakfast at 7am.'). If you're trying to make a comment, e.g. you're not happy, about something that happens quite often, then the present continuous is probably the best choice ('It's always raining in London').

If you want to ask us about a specific sentence, please feel free.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I've another question please . I've found that the present continuous is used for a intention with a verb of motion . So if we find a verb of motion in present continuous does it always mean an intention or it could mean an arrangement? Thanks in advance , I really need help .

Hello Ilam,

As Peter explained, we don't comment on other sites' explanations. If there's a specific example you want to ask us about, please feel free.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello . I've found that we use the present continuous with always
● to show that a repeated action is unplanned
● to show irritation
● to show admiration .
Please help me to understand this use . I can't understand always with present continuous

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