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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


Hello rubyho,

A fixed time is one which is set by a timetable or a schedule, not one decided by an individual. It often refers to events which repeat regularly such as train times.

Something arranged or planned is established by or between individuals or groups. It is often a one-time event.

Both forms can be used to describe repeating events but there is a slight difference. The present simple is usually used to describe actions which are normal or common, while the present continuous is used to describe behaviour or activities which are representative of a person or thing in some way. The difference is quite subtle and the best way to pick it up is by exposure: through reading and listening to English and seeing or hearing examples in a natural context.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

I just want to understand this rule.please explain me,thank you.
for something which is happening before and after a given time:
At eight o’clock we are usually having breakfast.
When I get home the children are doing their homework.

Hello archijais,

The present continuous is used here because the action is 'in progress'. For example:

At eight o’clock we usually have breakfast. - We start eating at 8.00.

At eight o’clock we are usually having breakfast. - At 8.00 we are in the middle of eating.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

hi sir,
please give me example of where we use the present continuous to talk about the past.


As the explanation says, we can use present forms (including the present continuous) to tell a story, usually when the story is an anecdote or a joke. It helps to make the performance (the storytelling) more memorable. For example, I could start an anecdote like this:

So, there I was in the city late at night. I was walking home and suddenly I saw a police car...

Alternatively, I could tell the same story using present forms:

So, there I am in the city late at night. I'm walking home and suddenly I see a police car...

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

please help what is the difference between, i always do, i am always doing.e.g I always lose my things and i am always losing my things,

Hi hornbyas,

The difference between verbal forms really depends a lot on context, so it's difficult to say more than what's explained on this page and our present simple and present tense pages regarding those tenses in general.

As for 'I always lose my things' vs. 'I am always losing my things', the first is a more general, neutral statement, whereas the latter implies some kind of emotion, e.g. frustration or annoyance. The present simple is commonly used to express annoyance in this way.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

I got 100% but i need to know how we can use the present continues for the past like "3. We can use the present continuous to talk about the past:

When we are telling a story:

When we are summarising the story from a book, film or play etc."

Hello Ahmed,

There's an example in the exercise, so you've already seen at least that one! Sometimes we tell stories set in the past using the present continuous, to give a sense of immediacy to them.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

hellow teacher!
Which one is correct among the two sentences below?
1. The apple in the basket is starting rotting
2. The apple in the basket is starting rot
Thank you in advance for you time and consideration