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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


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


Stative verbs

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

  • verbs of thinking and feeling:
(= believe)

  • verbs of the senses:
  • others:

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


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


Hello sir,
Can it's possible that there is no object in a sentence. Pls help me find object in this sentence?
1. What are you doing next week?

Hello Water,

We divide questions in to subject questions and object questions. In a subject question, the question word is the subject of the verb. In an object question, such as yours, the question word ('what') is the object of the verb. You can see this clearly if you reverse the inversion (making it more of an exclamation than a question):

You are doing what next week?

Here, 'what' is clearly the object. It is the same in your question.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I had a doubt. Can the present continuous tense be used for events that you are going to do in the near future?
For example, if someone asks you to do something, and you reply "Okay, I'm doing it.". Is this grammatically correct to describe events that you will be doing in no time. Or is it that the phrase can be just used for when you are *actually doing* that job at that moment?
If it can mean both, then is there any way that you can use to differentiate if this phrase is conveying a meaning indicating the future or the present?
This question may have sounded a little funny, but I have seen people use it. Couldn't find any reliable resource on the web to verify its grammatical authenticity.

Hello lord_sphinx,

The present continuous can be used for either activities in progress (I'm doing it now) or activities arranged for a future time (I'm meeting Bob on Thursday). There is no was to tell from the structure itself what the time reference is, but it is usually obvious from the context. If it is not, and there is a possibility of confusion, then we can add a lexical time phrase, such as now and on Thursday in the examples above.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir,
You have mentioned that we can use present, present tense and past, past in the same sentence and also we can't use present, past in the same sentence. what are the other possible ways, can we use present, future and past, future tenses in the same sentence.

Thank you!

Hello nadisha,

Can you please copy the part of the explanation that you're talking about? I'm a bit confused because it is possible to use different tenses in the same sentence, but it's difficult to generalise much, as there are so many different possible combinations. If there's a combination you want to ask about, please make up an example sentence and then we can help you with that.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Is it correct to put these sentences together "I’m working in London for the next two weeks . I start my job tomorrow " or is it incorrect if I say something like "I’m working in London for the next two weeks. I am starting my job tomorrow"
Thank you

Hello Tad90,

Both of these are possible ways to describe this situation. The choice of which way to describe a future event or situation is often dependent on how the speaker sees that event (situation), and what he or she chooses to emphasise. In this case both the present simple (I start...) and the present continuous (I'm starting...) are possible, and so are other alternatives too (will, going to, will be +ing.

For analysis of these forms and when they tend to be used, see this page.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I don't know how to use this particular verb,did in everyday sentence.who can help me.moreover,l cannot Identify the type of tense I use in sentence

Hello Losu Peter,

'did' is the past simple form of the verb 'do'. I can do my homework now, but yesterday I did my homework.

I'd suggest you read through this Verbs section about the different tenses, as they are all explained here.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team