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

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Present continuous 2

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  • future plans or arrangements:

Mary is going to a new school next term.
What are you doing next week?

Present continuous 3

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Present continuous 4

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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

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Present continuous questions 2

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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

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Present continuous negatives 2

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Stative verbs

We do not normally use the continuous with stative verbs. Stative verbs include:

  • verbs of thinking and feeling:
believe
dislike
know
like
love
hate
prefer
realise
recognise
remember
suppose
think
(= believe)
understand
want
wish

 
  • verbs of the senses:
appear
feel
look
seem
smell
sound
taste
 
  • others:
agree
be
belong
disagree
need
owe
own
possess

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

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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

Comments

1) Now a days, i'm getting headache often.
2) Now a days, I get headache often.

which one is correct it confuse me on picking verb "get or getting"?

Hi abdulhaqcivil1,

Both the present simple and the present continuous are possible here, but in general I'd recommend the present continuous if you're emphasising something that is abnormal (i.e. new and different).

I'd probably rephrase it as 'These days I'm having a lot of headaches (or 'frequent headaches')'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Plz can you explain me
i think the case bellow is for present simple not cont.

for something which happens again and again:
It’s always raining in London.
They are always arguing.
George is great. He’s always laughing.

Hello khado,

As the page says, we use the present continuous when something happens again and again. You could use the present simple here, but there is a slight difference in meaning. The present continuous suggests something happens again and again but is not part of a regular pattern, while the present simple suggests either something is permanent and unchanging or that it happens as part of a timetable or regular pattern of some kind.

Of course, language is always interpreted by the listener and we know how weather acts, so your meaning would be understood with either form.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team 

Hi,

It seems that both future continuous and present continuous can be used to talk about the future; how are they different? I think they are interchangeable in some (or maybe most) cases, but I believe there is a difference in nuance. Hope you could help.

Thank you!

Cf.
1) The plane will be landing in 10 minutes.
2) The plane is landing in 10 minutes.

3) I'll be meeting Peter for dinner tonight.
4) I'm meeting Peter for dinner tonight.

5) We'll be moving to Australia in November.
6) We're moving to Australia in November.

Hello el_gr,

Yes, both are used to speak about the future and both could be used in many contexts to say more or less the same thing, though usually there is a slight difference, often not so much in the action they are speaking about as about the speaker's perspective on the future action.

In general, the present continuous speaks about a future arranged action. The future continuous also speaks about a future arranged action with the additional focus on the duration of the event in some way, e.g. perhaps the speaker imagines herself being 'inside' the event. This can help understand sentences 3 vs 4 and 5 vs 6, for example. In 3, it's as if you're imagining your time in the restaurant together as a discrete event, whereas 4 is more a statement of fact. The same is true for 5 (I can see all the boxes around the house and it's going to be a difficult time) and 6.

This is quite a subtle distinction and so it can be difficult to see. I'd encourage you to look out for future continuous forms as you read and listen to English -- look at the context carefully, which should help you gain some insight into what the speaker or writer is trying to show with the future continuous form.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

for something which is happening before and after a given time:
At eight o’clock we are usually having breakfast.
means that they are usually beginnig their breakfast before 8 o'clock ?

Hello omar123,

That is correct. When we say 'at eight o'clock we are usually having breakfast' we mean that the breakfast is generally in progress at that time. In other words, if you arrive at eight o'clock then we will be sitting down at the table and eating. Breakfast may start any time before that and finish any time after that.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Is the sentence'he is reading for two hours' correct?

Hello Sheikh Salauddin,

When we describe an event which is unfinished and talk about the duration (up to now) we use the present perfect. The normal was to say this woud be:

He has been reading for two hours.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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