Both tenses have a continuous form. These continuous tenses are formed with the verb be and the –ing form of the verb:

We use continuous aspect:

  • for something happening before and after a given time.

He’s getting on the train. [before and after the moment of speaking]
It was quarter past ten. We were watching the news on television.

  • for something continuing 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. 

Exercise

Comments

Could you explain me the difference between 'you think that' and 'you're thinking that', 'you want' and 'you're wanting', please?
'...you’re thinking that your life will be pretty easy..' vs 'you think that your life will be pretty easy'.
'..you're wanting to improve your vocabulary...' vs 'you want to improve your vocabulary'.

Thanks in advance

Hello Elka0507,

Generally, for opinions, knowledge and emotions we use simple forms, so 'you think...' would be the standard form. However, if the speaker wants to emphasise that the other person's opinions are not fixed and are temporary then 'You're thinking...' is possible. It suggests 'at the moment', as opposed to 'always'.

Best wishes,

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter M,

Thank you so much for the explanation! You really cleared it for me.

Does the sentence 'You're wanting to improve your vocabulary' imply the 'inconstancy' of the student in this case (opinions are not fixed and are temporary)? Or does it simply convey his or her wish at the moment (the way it goes with active verbs)?

I also came across the phrases "I've been liking her since my school days' and 'I've been loving you too long' in the Internet. Are they also acceptable?

Sincerely yours,

Elena

Hello Elena,

These are all non-standard uses, I would say, designed to create a certain impression. McDonald's slogan 'I'm loving it' is similar.

Of the three, the first one suggests, as you say, a wish at the moment. It implies something like 'you're in need of' or 'you're trying to' as much as 'you desire to', I would say.

Best wishes,

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello when you say continuous forms are used to talk about background info, I need to know what is meant by the term background information

Hello Lamastry,

When we say that the continuous aspect is used to talk about background information, we're referring to actions that are happening but which are not the most salient action mentioned in a sentence. For example, in 'I was having lunch when the postman knocked on the door', the most salient action is the postman knocking on the door. The background action is 'I was eating lunch'. The sentence is more about the postman than about my lunch – my lunch is in the background.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you sir

Hello, dear friends! Please, help me with choosing the right answer. I got/was getting up at six o'clock every morning last week. When we were on holiday, we went / were going to the cafe almost every day. Danise practised/were practising the song every day until she could sing it perfectly.I did/was doing my homework as soon as I got home from school. Thank you!

Hello Inna Klepinina,

I'm afraid we don't provide help with these kinds of test or homework exercises on LearnEnglish. These are for you to do! We will help you to understand the material on our site, or with more general questions about the language, however.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Why are the following sentences used with the present continous?
I have to be going now. Shouldn't this be "I have to go now"?
You don't need to be making yourself sick. Also, this should be "you don't need to make yourself sick".

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