Learn about the present continuous and do the exercises to practise using it.
The present continuous is made from the present tense of the verb be and the –ing form of a verb:
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
- Present continuous 2
- future plans or arrangements:
Mary is going to a new school next term.
What are you doing next week?
- Present continuous 3
Plans for next month
2nd (Sat.) – my birthday. Party!
4th – day off
10th (Sun.) – flight OS462 15.40
11th, 12th, 13th – conference, Vienna
15th – dentist 3 p.m.
22nd – Mum & Dad arrive, evening
23rd – Toni's Restaurant (make reservation!)
25th – Mum & Dad > home
29th – payday
- Present continuous 4
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
- Present continuous questions 2
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
- Present continuous negatives 2
We do not normally use the continuous with stative verbs. Stative verbs include:
- verbs of thinking and feeling:
think (= believe)
We normally use the simple instead:
I understand you. (NOT I
am understanding you.)
This cake tastes wonderful. (NOT This cake
is tasting wonderful.)
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
We can use the present continuous to talk about the past when we are:
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 …