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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


thank you for this tutorial
I get confused a little bit, you said that we use present continuous to talk about past with story and when summarizing the story from a book, film or play other site states that we use present simple when talking about story and play for example " the hero dies at the end of the story"
can you please tell me which is the true ?
and please tell me if I made a grammatical mistakes in this comment :)
many thanks and best regards

Hello MadSyria,

You can see a few examples of these uses of the present simple and present continuous in the exercises. Both present simple and present continuous can be used to tell a story in the past. By using a present tense to talk about the past, the story often feels more real – it's as if we are witnessing the story in that past time. We use the present simple to talk about something that is always true or habits and the present continuous to talk about things that are developing, etc. 

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

please explain to me aboout these sentence, where is the right sentence ?

i see john playing football. (this pettern in some article)

i see john is playing football.

Hello wahyueko,

Both sentences are correct but are used for different purposes. In the first you are simply describing an action that you see in progress. In the second you are describing something that you see in progress, but also calling attention to it. The second sentence would make more sense, for example, if you didn't expect to see John playing, or if you wanted someone else to see that John is back on the pitch.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I don't think this sentence can be used, but my colleague thinks otherwise. Please could you help me explain?

'We are continuing to have a fabulous reaction to our shabby chic home and giftware since we met you at the show with exciting new pieces being added all the time.'

Hi sarah e,

This is not really the kind of query we deal with here on LearnEnglish - we are really here to help users with the materials on the site rather than offer a consulting service! However, I can tell you that the sentence is not entirely grammatical because the tense use (present continuous) and time reference (unfinished past with 'since') do not match.

The fabulous reaction to our shabby chic home and giftware that we we have had since we met you at the show continues, with exciting new pieces being added all the time.

However, I would say that the sentence as a whole is clumsy to my ear and some of the vocabulary seems rather odd as well ('shabby chic home'). However, these are more questions of style.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Oh, I apologise, but thank you.

Dear sir,

Could you advise present continuous tense as following.

Eg: He is going for tuition on Monday.

Can I use on Monday?


Thank you sir.

I've another question for instance,

He is eating on Monday.

Can I use 'on Monday ' in this case?

Hello soon_hi,

This is grammatically possibly but unlikely. We use the present continuous for future meaning only when the future event is arranged or already organised in some way. Thus we would only say this if the 'eating' is something that has been specially arranged, such as a special dinner event or similar.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team