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Continuous aspect

Level: intermediate

We use continuous aspect:

  • for something happening before and after a specific time:

He's getting on the train. (before and after the moment of speaking)
It was a quarter past ten. We were watching the news on television.

  • for something happening before and after another action:

Mother will be cooking the dinner when we get home.
We were waiting for the bus when it started to rain.

  • for something continuing for some time:

Everybody will be waiting for us.
They had been working hard all day.

  • for something happening again and again:

They've been doing that every day this week.
The children were always shouting.
He will be practising the piano every night.

  • for something temporary:

We are renting an apartment until our house is ready.
He was working in a garage during the vacation.

  • for something new:

We have moved from Birmingham. We're living in Manchester now.
He had left university and was working in his father's business.

  • to describe something changing or developing:

Everything has been getting more difficult.
He was growing more bad-tempered every day. 

Continuous aspect 1


Continuous aspect 2


We can use continuous aspect:

How long have you been sitting there?
I don't know how long she had been learning Spanish.

Your friends will be looking for you.
They might be playing tennis.

You should have been driving more carefully.
Soon we will have been living here for 25 years.

Continuous aspect 3


Continuous aspect 4


We do not normally use the continuous aspect with stative verbs. We use the simple instead:

I don't understand you. (NOT am not understanding)
When I got home, I really needed a shower. (NOT was needing)
I've always liked John. (NOT been liking)


Hello. Could you please help me?
Is the following sentence correct using the past continuous? Can we use the past continuous to express repeated actions or a habit in the past?
- He was going to the club every day when he was on holiday.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

For something which was a normal activity like this we generally use a simple form:

He went to the club...



The LearnEnglish Team

" - for something happening before and after another action:"
Why happening and not happens"

Hello InmaLD

That is a reduced relative clause. The full form is 'for something that happens before and after another action'. Sometimes we reduce relative clauses such as this one using an '-ing' form.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

What is the difference for the following sentense?
-Throwing shade isn't going to make you shine.
-Throwing shade doesn't make you shine.

Thank you.

Hello Montri

In this pair of sentences, 'isn't going to make' is more about the future and 'doesn't' is speaking more in general, i.e. about something that is always true. The first form is explained on Talking about the future and the other one on the Present simple page.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Montri

Yes, you should use the one that fits better with the situation and with what you want to say.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again Montri

Both of them can be more natural in some situations and not so natural in others. If you explain the situation you have in mind a little, I can try to help you understand the differences between the two.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Montri

Both could work.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, i made up this sentence : i was wondering if you were gonna come over tonight. Is It right?. ciao thanks in Advance.