Level: intermediate

We use continuous aspect:

  • for something happening before and after a specific time:

He's getting on the train. (before and after the moment of speaking)
It was a quarter past ten. We were watching the news on television.

  • for something happening before and after another action:

Mother will be cooking the dinner when we get home.
We were waiting for the bus when it started to rain.

  • for something continuing for some time:

Everybody will be waiting for us.
They had been working hard all day.

  • for something happening again and again:

They've been doing that every day this week.
The children were always shouting.
He will be practising the piano every night.

  • for something temporary:

We are renting an apartment until our house is ready.
He was working in a garage during the vacation.

  • for something new:

We have moved from Birmingham. We're living in Manchester now.
He had left university and was working in his father's business.

  • to describe something changing or developing:

Everything has been getting more difficult.
He was growing more bad-tempered every day. 

Continuous aspect 1


Continuous aspect 2


We can use continuous aspect:

How long have you been sitting there?
I don't know how long she had been learning Spanish.

Your friends will be looking for you.
They might be playing tennis.

You should have been driving more carefully.
Soon we will have been living here for 25 years.

Continuous aspect 3


Continuous aspect 4


We do not normally use the continuous aspect with stative verbs. We use the simple instead:

I don't understand you. (NOT am not understanding)
When I got home, I really needed a shower. (NOT was needing)
I've always liked John. (NOT been liking)


Thanks Kirk.

Grammatically, 'Is teeming with' is right. Out of 'is teeming with' and 'abounds in', which is more appropriate for the sentence I wrote in my previous comment?
Can 'teem' and 'abound' be used interchangeably?

Hi rajkumar,

That really depends on what you want to say. I would probably use 'teeming with' myself, as it is often used to express activity, but I think either would work.

I'd suggest you consult a concordancer for this kind of question. If you go to http://corpus.byu.edu/bnc/, for example, and search for 'teeming with' and then 'abounds in', you can see examples of how both have been used in different sources. That should help you understand how they are used.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

 Can I say " my back is hurting me"? if no, why?
Thanks in advance

Hello zagrus,

Yes, you can say that.  In fact, I said it to my wife yesterday afternoon after carrying some heavy things down to the cellar!  The present continuous form is used to show it is something true at the moment, of course, and we can substitute other parts of the body (my leg is hurting me / my finger is hurting me etc).

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team


Is this sentence correct?

"The man is having his eyes closed." Thanks!

I think when we are reading a lesson, what we are thinking is something that has passed. so it's hard to hook to the lesson unless we use the lesson when the happening is happening. am i wrong?

please i need your help i  dont know how to write a good paragraph ,so i need your help as soon as possible

Hello Elmelik,
That's quite a general question, so it's hard for me to give you a specific answer.
Do you have problems with putting short sentences together to make longer sentences?  If so, this may be useful for you.
Paragraphs are not all the same, of course, so what makes a good paragraph depends on the kind of text you're writing - different kinds of letters and emails, essays, reports, advertisements and so on.  If you can tell us what you're trying to write then we might be able to give you some more specific advice.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

hello,I'm trying again...:))please,could anybody tell me the difference between 'seriousness 'and 'earnestness'??what means 'seriousness is acceptable but earnestness is strictly forbidden...?

Hello Paula,
You asked the same question on another page and we answered it there. Please can you ask each question once only? It saves us time so we can help more users!
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team