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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


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

Basic level



Can you please explain point no 3 we can use the present continues to talk about the past i didn't understand it

Hi Rasha2,

Usually we use past forms for telling stories:

I woke up and got out of bed. Then had a wash, got dressed and went downstairs for breakfast.

However, it is also quite common to use present forms (simple and continuous, as appropriate) in order to make the story sound more immediate and bring it to life, especially if the story is an anecdote or a joke:

So anyway, listen to this. I wake up and get out of bed. Then have a wash, get dressed and go downstairs for breakfast, and you'll never guess what happens next...

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks alot

Hi all,
Which is correct? and why?
- "Sorry, I don't understand, what are you asking for."
- "Sorry, I don't understand, what you are asking for."

Hello yh24,

The first one is correct because the word order in indirect questions is different. Please see our reported questions page for an explanation of this.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,
Thanks for your prompt reply. I know the verb form of these sentences but I don't understand the exact meaning of them and how to use it.
(Ex: He lived in London -> Its mean: He lived in London in the past and He doesn't live London now)

Kindly help me to understand clearly about these sentences

Thanks again for your help

Hi Peter Nguyen01,

I'm afraid it's not possible for us to provide in-depth general explanations of numerous different forms and tenses in these comments sections. If we tried to provide such answers then we would have no time left for our main work, which is maintaining and developing the site. Explanations, examples, rules and practice exercises for all of those forms are available via the link I posted - this is the function of those pages - so please work through those and then we'll be happy to answer any specific questions you have about what you read.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Teacher,
Kindly help me to clarify the difference of sentences below:
+ He lives in London
+ He is living in London
+ He has lived in London
+ He lived in London
+ He has been living in London

Thanks so much

Hi Peter Nguyen01,

You have six different verb forms there, including different times (tenses) and different aspects (progressive and perfect). In order, the names of the forms are as follows:

present simple

present continuous (progressive)

present perfect

past simple

present perfect continuous (progressive)

Explanations of these are available in our grammar section on verbs - click here for this. When you've worked through the relevant pages if you have any specific questions then we'll be happy to help.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

I would like to know what is the difference between "sth that is fixed" in present simple tense and "sth arranged or planned" in present continuous tense.

Also there are both "sth that happens again and again" in present simple and present continuous tense. How can i distinguish them?

Thank you.