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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

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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

Excuse me, how did I should write "did" in this phrase: What time "did or does" the film is starting?

Hello x100pre_noe,

It depends whether you are asking about the past or not.

To ask about a film which has not started yet you can use either of these:

What time does the film start?

What time is the film starting?

 

To ask about a film which has already started (or has already finished) you can say this:

What time did the film start?

 

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear team,

What (do you consider/are you considering) to be the lowest price they'll sell the house for?

Do we use the present simple here or the present continuous? What is the difference,please?

Thank you

Hello, I want to develop my English and grammar. Do you want us to communicate together to learn more from each other? I am a girl, but an occasion

Hello Maya.michael,

The correct form here is do you consider.

 

Consider has more than one use. It can be a dynamic verb with the meaning 'think about'. When it is used in this way, it can be used with the progressive aspect:

I'm considering selling the car. [=I'm thinking about it/trying to decide]

 

Consider can also be used as a stative verb meaning 'have an opinion'. When it is used in this way, it cannot be used with the progressive aspect:

I consider that to be a mistake. [=I think that is/was a mistake]

 

The verb think works in a similar way, with the same meanings (I'm thinking about vs I think).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I'm typing, I'm sleeping soon, and I'm falling asleep in an hour. ;)
Are these sentences correct??

Hello Rafaela1,

The second two are a little odd.

If I understand what you mean, I'd suggest 'I'm going to sleep' or 'I'm going to bed' for the second form, and 'I'll be asleep in an hour' for the third one.

Does that make sense?

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Could you plz tell me what these two sentences actually mean?
At midnight, I am usually reading a book.
At midnight, I usually read a book.
Thanks a lot.

Hello DaniWeebKage,

The first sentence, with the continuous form (am reading), means that you are usually in the middle of reading at midnight. In other words, you start some time before midnight and are still reading when midnight comes.

The second sentence, with the simple form (read), means that you begin reading at midnight. In other words, midnight is your usual time for starting reading.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Ok, Sir,
Let's focus on the meaning of these sentences. Not the timeline.
I am reading a book when the lights go out.
I was reading a book when the lights went out.
Do these sentences have the same meaning?
And what if a question in my exam like
I (read) a book when the lights (go) out.
Can I use both?
Thanks a lot, Sir Peter

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