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


why we dont use "past continuous " for the past, in the story or for summarising?
it seems apparently wrong?
thanks for your attention

Hello Mrs Vahedi,

Note that the explanation says that the present continuous can be used in these ways, but that does not mean that you can only use the present continuous to tell a story or to summarise. You can use the past continuous to do these things as long as it makes sense given the context.

If you have any doubts, please feel free to write a few sentences and we can check them for you.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

In the example cited "I’m just leaving work. I’ll be home in an hour." shouldnt the first sentence be "I'm just leaving for work?"

Hello ankita2219,

Both are correct grammatically but they have different - almost opposite - meanings.

'...leaving work' means the person is at work and is about to leave to go somewhere else, such as home.

'...leaving for work' means the person is somewhere else, such as at home, and is about to go to work.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Isn't the present tense used to talk about something that happen again and again .
and here the present continuous also used to the *same purpose .
so, what's the difference ??

Hello Samah10,

You are correct that the present simple can be used for habitual actions.  Generally, we use the present simple when the action is normal - it happens all the time and is standard.  For example:

He gets up at 6.00.

They eat lunch together.

He works at the bank.

All of these suggest that this behaviour is understood as normal, typical and not particularly noteworthy.

We use the present continuous, especially with 'always' or 'forever' when something is not so much normal but rather a frequent event or activity.  For example:

He's always getting up at that time. [it's something that happens frequently, but not necessarily all the time]

They're forever eating lunch together. [it happens more often than would be expected, and is therefore something noteworthy - i.e. it is seen as not normal or expected]

He's always working late. [again, the fact he works late is seen as worthy of comment, therefore something not part of the normal way of things]

It is a small difference in some ways but I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

what is the difference between following words if i add word 'always ':

He always gets up at 6:00 A.M.
He is always getting up at 6:00 A.M.

Thanking you in an advance!

Hello rishi,

'always' is often used with the present continuous to indicate actions that we think are done too often. In this case, the sentence doesn't just report this man's routine - it also includes the idea that the speaker or writer disapproves of the action in some way. It could be that 6:00 is too early or too late, for example.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

thanks, that's much clear with the examples.

If you may, I have another question .
both present tense and continuous used for something that fixed or arranged in the future.
so again, what's the difference ?

Hello Samah10,

When the explanation says "something fixed in the future", it is referring to events that occur regularly on a timetable, e.g. train or flight departures, film showing times in a cinema, classes at a school, etc. For these, the present simple is used.

The present continuous is often used for something planned or arranged. These are generally not regular events. For example, if you and I agreed to meet in a café tomorrow at 8am, I could say "Samah10 and I are meeting tomorrow at 8". If that was something we did every day, I'd use the present simple (for a habitual or regular event).

Note that the difference is sometimes a matter of perspective. If I am to catch a flight tomorrow at 10:30 and someone asked me about it, I could say both:

The flight leaves at 10:30.
I'm leaving tomorrow at 10.30.

In the first sentence, I'm talking more about the flight than my plan, and in the second I'm talking more about my planned trip.

I hope this helps!

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team