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Present continuous

Level: beginner

The present continuous is made from the present tense of the verb be and the –ing form of a verb:

I am working
You are playing
He is talking
She is living
It is eating
We are staying
They are sleeping

We use the present continuous to talk about:

  • activities at the moment of speaking:

I'm just leaving work. I'll be home in an hour.
Please be quiet. The children are sleeping.

Present continuous 1

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Present continuous 2

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  • future plans or arrangements:

Mary is going to a new school next term.
What are you doing next week?

Present continuous 3

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Present continuous 4

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Present continuous questions

We make questions by putting am, is or are in front of the subject:

Are you listening?
Are they coming to your party?
When is she going home?
What am I doing here?

Present continuous questions 1

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Present continuous questions 2

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Present continuous negatives

We make negatives by putting not (or n't) after am, is or are:

I'm not doing that.
You aren't listening.
(or You're not listening.)
They aren't coming to the party. (or They're not coming to the party.)
She isn't going home until Monday. (or She's not going home until Monday.)

Present continuous negatives 1

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Present continuous negatives 2

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Stative verbs

We do not normally use the continuous with stative verbs. Stative verbs include:

  • verbs of thinking and feeling:
believe
dislike
know
like
love
hate
prefer
realise
recognise
remember
suppose
think
(= believe)
understand
want
wish

 
  • verbs of the senses:
appear
feel
look
seem
smell
sound
taste
 
  • others:
agree
be
belong
disagree
need
owe
own
possess

We normally use the simple instead:

I understand you. (NOT I am understanding you.)
This cake tastes wonderful. (NOT This cake is tasting wonderful.)

Level: intermediate

We also use the present continuous to talk about:

  • something which is happening before and after a specific time:

At eight o'clock we are usually having breakfast.
When I get home the children are doing their homework.

  • something which we think is temporary:

Michael is at university. He's studying history.
I'm working in London for the next two weeks.

  • 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?

  • something which is changing, growing or developing:

The children are growing up quickly.
The climate is changing rapidly.
Your English is improving.

  • something which happens again and again:

It's always raining in London.
They are always arguing.
George is great. He's always laughing.

Note that we normally use always with this use.
 

Present continuous 5

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Level: advanced

We can use the present continuous to talk about the past when we are:

  • telling a story:

The other day I'm just walking down the street when suddenly this man comes up to me and asks me to lend him some money. Well, he's carrying a big stick and he looks a bit dangerous, so I'm wondering what to do …

  • summarising a book, film or play:

Harry Potter is a pupil at Hogwarts school. One day when he is playing Quidditch he sees a strange object in the sky. He wonders what is happening

Basic level

Comments

The other day I'm just walking up the tropical forest when slowly this sloth comes up to me and asks me to give some fruits. Well, he's having big claws and he looks a bit like a mascot, so I'm wondering what to do …

" Hot water makes me to feel tired " is it correct or wrong ?
Let me know, you explain all the grammer about this sentence,please.

Hello Ridg Wick

I'm afraid that is not correct. When we use 'make' in this way, it is followed by an infinitive without 'to': 'Hot water makes me feel tired'.

You can read more about how to use 'make' this way on our Verbs followed by the infinitive page (see the section called make and let).

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Sir,
Good afternoon!
Could you please answer these questions-
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(A) Is there a difference in the following two?

Will you be please quiet?
I'm trying to do my homework.

Will you be please quiet?
I'm doing my homework.

(B) In the following sentences-

(1) We fly to Paris next week.
(2) Mary is going to a new school next term.

we've used the present simple tense in the sentence 1 because the event is fixed in the future, and we've used the present continuous tense in the sentence 2 because it's something that is a future plan.

Question a: Isn't a future plan something that is fixed to happen in the future too? If yes, then will it be wrong to say "Mary goes to a new school next term."

Question b: How to decide whether one uses the present simple tense or the present continuous tense for future events?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kind Regards,

Hello Abhishek Singh

In A, the first version implies more strongly that you are having a difficult time concentrating or doing your homework than the second one, but you could use both to effectively mean the same thing. Please note the word order should be 'Will you please be quiet!' in that sentence.

In B, the present simple form is used to speak about a timetabled event (I wouldn't recommend thinking about it as a 'fixed' event), that is, the flight is on a publicly accessible schedule. You could also say 'We're flying to Paris' if you were seeing the event as a plan rather than as a timetabled event. Unless there is a specific reason to speak of it one way or the other, both mean the same thing.

Although Mary going to a new school is probably on her personal calendar, it is not on any public timetable and so it's not correct to use the present simple here. Since it is a planned event that is already arranged (i.e. her parents have arranged with the school for her to go there), the present continuous is the most natural form.

Please have a look at our Talking about the future and Future plans pages. If you have any more questions about this topic, please ask them on one of those pages.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,
Good evening!

Thanks for explaining that.

Could I please request you to answer this last query related to the same topic?
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It's related to the last point -"something which happens again and again:" - in the above article.

Question:
Would it be correct to say- "You are always being late to work."?
Or is "You are always late to work." correct?
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Kind Regards,

Hello Abhishek Singh

Yes, 'You're always late to work' is correct, and it's also correct to use a continuous form, though I would use the verb 'arrive' ('You're always arriving late') since we generally avoid using 'be' in the continuous.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi. Could I take the below actions as something that is going on now and is going to be continued for the specified time?

We're living in London for the next two years.
We're renting a house at the beach for the rest of the summer.

All the best.
Oleg

Hello Oleg,

Both sentences are fine and describe situations which are in progress and which the speaker sees as temporary, as you say.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, would you please tell me if I'm not mistaken that the reason why I can't say 'I am walking in the park for an hour today', but I can go with 'I was walking in the park for an hour yesterday' is that in present the first could imply 'I am going to walk', but in the past, should I be intent to express my will to walk I would have to say 'I was going to walk in the park for an hour yesterday'?
Best Regards,
Oleg

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