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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 Ivan

Natural languages develop from the way people use them over time and I'm sure that is also the case with the continuous forms in English. You could read a little more about this in the Wikipedia or consult an expert in historical linguistics to find out more.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

What is the diferrent the following sentenes?

My son is going to ten next month.
My son will be ten next month.


D second one is of future continous time and d first is of present continuous

Hello Montri,
The first sentence has a small error: it should be ' going to be ten...' (you omitted the 'be').
Generally, we use 'going to' to describe things we have reason to expect to be true, and we use 'will' to describe things that we believe will happen. In this case, both forms work perfectly well and there is no real difference between them.
You can read more about these forms on this page:
The LearnEnglish Team

I have to be in the same room as my router to get a faster speed.
I am having to be in the same room as my router to get faster speed.
are there any cases where the above sentences can be used interchangeably?

Hello sam61,
The continuous form ('am having to') is quite rare. We use it when it is important to emphasise that a certain obligation or requirement is temporary. For example:
I have to travel 10 km to get to work. [this is necessary]
I'm having to travel 10 km to get to work. [this is necessary at the moment but is not a normal state of affairs]
The simple form ('have to') can be used instead of the continuous form, though unless it has a time expression such as 'at the moment' it will not carry quite the same meaning. Of course, the context may make the temporary or permanent nature of the obligation clear.
The LearnEnglish Team

I was wondering whether I could use present simple or continuous interchangeably in the next dialogue:
"Which band is playing at the club tonight?"
'The X.'
"What time does the concert start/is the concert starting?"
In my opinion, they are both correct because they are part of an arrangement, but I need a second opinion.

Hello Marua,
Yes, both
'What time does the concert start?'
'What time is the concert starting?'
are possible here. The concert can be seen as a scheduled event or as a particular arrangement.

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Sir
Please let me know which is correct ? 'A' is meeting 'B' after a long time after greeting or saying how are you ? Which is correct way of asking? What
do you do?/ What are you doing?

Hi Lal,

'What do you do?' is a question about a person's occupation which we generally use when meeting them for the first time.


If we are meeting someone we know or once knew then we would say one of these:

Are you still working as a journalist?

Are you still a journalist?


If we could not remember what they used to do then we could say:

What are you up to now?

What are you doing at the moment?



The LearnEnglish Team