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 working

He is working

She is working

It is working

We are working

You are working

They are working

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.

ex. Present continuous 1

ex. Present continuous 2

  • future plans or arrangements:

Mary is going to a new school next term.

What are you doing next week?

ex. Present continuous 3

ex. 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?

ex. Present continuous questions 1

ex. 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 Theyre not coming to the party.)

She isn’t going home until Monday. (or She’s not going home until Monday.)

ex. Present continuous negatives 1

ex. 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
love
recognise
understand
dislike
hate
remember
want
know
prefer
suppose
wish
like
realise
think
(= believe)

  • verbs of the senses:

appear
look
smell
taste
feel
seem
sound

  • others:

agree
belong
need
own
be
disagree
owe
possess

We normally use the simple instead:

I understand you. (NOT I am not understanding you.)

This cake tastes wonderful. (NOT This cake is tasting wonderful.)

Basic level

Comments

What is different between those two sentences?

I am always losing the phone.
I always lose the phone.

Thank you

Hello Vivian888999,

Both sentences describe things that happen frequently. The present continuous form (the first example) is generally used in such cases when we want to emphasise that the situation is irritating and that we wish it would stop.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
Please help me to make this clear. I copied the verb' look' from your website and all the other verbs under'Stative' Verbs'
'look' comes under verbs of the senses'
Is it wrong to say: 1. I was looking for you everywhere .
2. I looked for you everywhere. Is this correct? Can't I use past continuous
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hello Lal,

'look' has many different uses. One is as a verb of perception, as in the two examples you have written here. In these cases, it's perfectly normal to use them in continuous tenses.

When 'look' is used as a stative verb, it's unusual (though not impossible) to use it in a continuous tense. For example, in 'She looks like her brother', 'look' is a stative verb and it would be wrong outside of a specific context to say 'She is looking like her brother'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
Please tell me which sentence is correct? First or the second. I think the first
Please let me know. The first consist of to plus verb (to phone and to write)
'To infinitives' but the second is verb plus ing. (writing) I think this is not
correct. I want to make sure.
The two sentences are:
1. It is easier to phone than to write letters.
2. It is easier to phone than writing letters. Both are correct or only one .
Thank you.
Regards
Lal.

Hi Lal,

Yes, 1 is the correct one.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
With reference to your answer to el-gr's question, the plane is landing in ten minutes.'
This is something arranged but if I say 'the plane is going to land in ten minutes.' Is it all
right to call it 'intention' or plan. and it may not happen or not sure or exact. I am I correct?
Please let me know.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hello Lal,

You can find explanations of the difference between the present continuous and going to form for future reference on our page on the topic: Talking about the Future.

The difference between the present continuous and the going to form is the speaker's perspective: how the speaker sees the action.

If you use is landing then you see the action as something previously arranged.

If you use going to then you have some reason to think this is going to happen. This may be something you see or hear, for example: the pilot makes an announcement, the plane starts to go down or the engines change tone.

If you use the present simple and say lands then you see the action as part of a regular timetable.

 

There is no difference in certainty or in reality; the difference is in the speaker's view of the action.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
Could you explain this for me because I have doubts whether they are right to use.E.g.
How long are you waiting for? How long were they waiting for? Were they waiting for a long
time?
Regarding time can one use the above tenses or should one use present perfect or past perfect?
Please let me know.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hello Lal,

The first sentence describes a period of time continuing up to the present. it is an unfinished time period (it goes up to the moment of speaking and may continue) and so the present perfect is appropriate:

How long have you been waiting (for)? [we usually omit the 'for' but it can be included]

 

The other two sentences are dependent on context. Both describe past finished time and so use past forms, but you could use a range of alternatives, depending on the context. Past simple and continuous forms are both possible (simple views the wait as a single historical event; continuous as a process whose duration is emphasised) and past perfect forms (if the waiting was interrupted by another event in the past) are all possible. As I said, the context and speaker's intention will determine which of these forms is chosen.


Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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