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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 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

Hello soon_hl,

That is perfectly fine. The 'going to' form here has a future meaning, so it is quite correct to use 'on Monday' here.

You can learn more about how to talk about the future here.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

hello dear Peter and Kirk
i wonder if you could please explain the last use more.
i am not able to grasp it.
thank you.

Hello misam,

When we are summarising a film, story etc. we can use the present continuous to bring it to life. For example:

I saw a great film last week.

Really? What was it about?

Well, it's set in London. The main character is working in a bank but he's not happy and he's thinking about changing his job. Then one day...

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I've read about present simple and present continuous and I'm wondering about the use of these both tenses in telling "something that happens again and again". Is there any difference between these two tenses in this kind of using?


1. It's always raining in London
Can I say " It always rains in London (using present simple)?
2. They're always arguing
Can I say "They always argue"?

I'm also confuse about the use of present simple and present continuous in telling about "schedule or our plan in the future" :

1. Mary is going to a school next term
Can I say "Mary goes to a school next term"
2. What are you doing next week?
Can I say "What do you do next week?"

Thank you for reading my questions and answering them.

Hello Verony,

The present simple can be used to talk about something that happens repeatedly or habitually, and the present continuous can also be used to talk about something that happens repeatedly as long as it is connected with the time of speaking (or around then). The continuous form often can also be used to express some kind of annoyance, i.e. that the speaker thinks the action happens too often.

So in sentence 1, both forms are possible, though the first one should be used when it's connected with the time of speaking in some way. As for sentence 2, both are also possible, but should be used in the same way as I explained above.

As for your second question, the present simple is only used to talk about the future when referring to some sort of timetable, e.g. train or flight arrivals, work schedules, etc. Otherwise, the present continuous, 'going to' or 'will' are used – see our talking about the future page for an explanation of these. I'd also recommend taking a look at our continuous aspect page regarding your first question.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

My English teacher she said that sentence is correct.
He usually sits down and uses computer. not ......He usually sits down and is using a computer
What do you think?

Hello AvramCiprian,

The first sentence is correct (though we shoudl say 'a computer') if we are talking about his general behaviour.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I'm just started to learn grammar English.In this case which sentence is correct:
He usually sits down and is using a computer
He usually sitting down and is using a computer

Hello AvramCiprian,

The first sentence is correct. With adverbs of frequency such as 'usually' we use the present simple rather than continuous.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team