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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

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

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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

Comments

Hello _Bobby_,

The question of whether the verb is stative or dynamic depends upon its meaning. When 'think' is used to show an opinion then it is not used in continuous forms, but when it is used to mean 'consider' then it can be. In the first of the two examples at the end of your question the meaning is not entirely clear as the sentence does not have a full context but it seems likely that the meaning here is to have an opinion and so the continuous form would not be used.

Similarly, with the verb 'have' we have different meanings. When the meaning is related to possession we do not use continuous forms. When the meaning is different ('have a bath', 'have a coffee', 'have a meeting') we can use continuous forms. Your second sentence is about possession, so the continuous form would not be appropriate in this context.

You can read more on this topic on this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, dear Kirk/Peter
1- this sentence conveys a prediction/fact about the lack of adaptation ability:
"I may never get used to this situation." [Present simple sentence]

I guess I can't use it as a continuous form, due to "never". Am I right?

2- As you mentioned before "I am getting used to this kind of weather.", is a valid and grammatically correct sentence. Does it make sense we use: "I'm not getting used to this situation." instead of my first sentence as a complaint?

Thank u.

Hello _Bobby_,

For 1, 'may' doesn't have a continuous form. It's possible to use a continuous infinitive after it (e.g. 'may be getting used to'), but you're right: in this case it'd be pretty unusual to use it. 2 is a much more likely way of expressing the kind of complaint that you seem to want to communicate. 'I'm not getting used to' is correct and is natural and I think says what you want it to.

Good work!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

by comparing present simple and present continuous, is it correct that we can use either simple or continuous form for something which happens again and again?

Hello Salie108,

Yes, that is correct. There is a difference in meaning, however. The present simple is used when something is habitual or part of our normal routines. The present continuous is used when an action is in some way representative of a person - repeated behaviour which tells us about the kind of person they are. In this use, as the information above says, we tend to use 'always' (or 'forever' or 'constantly'). Most often we use this to describe annoying behaviour:

She's always leaving her homework to the last minute!

He's forever complaining about the neighbours, but he never does anything about them.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Teacher,
How do I build a present continues negative interrogative statement to the following sentence?

" I am eating rice. "

Hello Dilshu Wijesinghe,

I'm afraid we don't provide answers for questions from homework or tests elsewhere. We're happy to answer questions about how the language works or to explain things on our pages which you don't understand, of course.

You can learn about forming negatives on this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,
Thank you very much for your help. I just only provide a example for a question I have on my mind. It's always a struggle to me to build a negative interrogative statement for a present continuous senetence use "I" as the subject. Can I transform the above example ( I am eating rice ) to negative interrogative like this.
" Am not I eating rice? " Is this sentence correct?

Hello Dilshy Wijesinghe,

Yes, that is a correct sentence. It's not a very likely utterance, however. We might say this in a rhetorical manner, but not in any other context, I think.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much for your valuable help and explaining the grammatical usage of the above sentence, sir. It is really useful to me.

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