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

 Very useful!

yah! its Fine

it's very useful and interesting. i need more lessons about it

this site is just great for me,,,;)))ty

Hello,
I need help)
Can we say:  George is great. He always laughs. 
I read that we use the present simple to talk about something that happens again and again.

Hello Marico,
We can say that, but it would be more natural to say 'He laughs all the time' or 'He always laughs when I tell him a joke.'
You can find out more about when we use the present simple in our grammar section. Just click on the two links in my previous sentence.
Best wishes,
Adam
The LearnEnglish Team

Ok, I understood. Thank you Adam!
Look, I found one explanation today:
The Present Continuous is used to express  an action thought of as a continual process (with the adverb always, ever, constantly). The action is represented as going on without any interval.
She is always grumbling.
She is constantly thinking of you.
George is great. He is always  laughing.
There is an element of exaggeration, because the action in this case cannot go on without intervals. The exaggeration is generally called forth by emotion.

hey there !!!
i need  a  help 
i could not understand  this (  for some thing that is happening  before  and  after a give time )  please   make  it clear   to me   

please   am waiting  for  the answer

Hi there 

We sometimes use the present continuous like this. I go to my friends house regularly. Now my friend has a very noisy dog. It's always barking at something. When I arrive at my friends house, his pet dog is barking. 

Before I get to his house, the dog starts barking. When I arrive, (a given time) the dog is barking. Only later, after I have arrived, the dog stops barking. 

Thanks

Jack

The LearnEnglish Team

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