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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


Hi leejineui,

You are absolutely right when you say that the present continuous can be used to talk about the future. More specifically, it is used to speak about future plans or arrangements. There is more on this on our talking about the future page, but also please know that speaking about the future takes a lot of practice.

I't sounds like "will appear" is the correct form in the sentence you mention. This is because as far as I can tell without knowing the full context, you don't plan for the figures to appear in the report - you already know this and so are simply giving information about the future, i.e. that the figures will appear in the report. Therefore, the correct form is will.

I don't agree with your friend when they speak about the figures changing by themselves. Perhaps I haven't understood the context well enough, but that doesn't sound right to me.

I hope this helps you.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

If u plz tell me questions and negatives in present continuous

Hello Amal.mahmoud,

To form the negative we add 'not' after the auxiiliary (am, are or is):

I'm watching a film    >    I'm not watching a film

He's sleeping    >    He's not sleeping

To form questions we invert the order of the subject and the auxiliary:

I'm watching a film    >    Am I watching a film?

He's sleeping    >    Is he sleeping?

You can find more information on question forms here.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I did this exercise from
the question was "Anyone ... after the start of the play is not allowed in until the interval."
I got the correct answer "arriving", but somehow I did't know how to explain why this is the answer to the question.
Could you please show me which part of the English Grammar should I learn, thanks.

Hi granttod,

Anyone arriving is a participle clause, which is explained on our Participle clauses page (look in the With the Present Participle section). Essentially, anyone arriving acts like the relative clause anyone who arrives would act if the sentence were written that way.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Would it be correct to say 'John is arriving late. He is stuck in traffic'.
If it is, do people usually say this type of sentence (a fact) using the present continuous or use 'will' or 'going to' instead? Thanks!

Can you tell me about state verb?
What 's about the verb "try"? Is it the state verb?
When do we use " I try" or " I'm trying"?
Thank The LearnEnglish Team a lot!

Hello BigN,
You can find out about stative verbs here:
As far as 'try' goes, it is not a stative verb and so can be used in a continuous form ('I'm trying...').  However, that does not mean that it cannot be used in a simple form ('I try...').  
Both forms are possible and are used in accordance with normal usage.  Thus we use 'I try...' for general/permanent actions:
'I (always) try to be nice to people.'
We use 'I'm trying...' for temporary actions or action in progress at the time of speaking:
'I'm trying to fix the car, but it's not easy.'
You can find out more about continuous forms here.
I hope that helps to clarify it for you.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

We use present continuous tense for something which is happening before and after a given time I thought that would the same meaning to (something happens again and again) and if that is the case this would be in simple present form e.g 'At eight o'clock we are usually having a breakfast'.

Why is it? 'I'm just leaving work rather than I shall have leave work.what is the difference? I'm in comfussion about it.