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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 Wilhem_Busch,

Both are examples of reported speech. To see the difference in meaning, consider the direct speech for each sentence:

"He is coming."

"He will come."

The first indicates more certainty: either he is already on his way or else the speaker is certain of what he or she says.

The second is a promise, a prediction or a guess.

I wouldn't say either is more polite or more frequent. They simply express slightly different perspectives on the part of the speaker.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

If someone asked me "Where are you going on your next holiday?"
can i say "I'm going to Portugal on next holiday.or
I'll going to Portugal on next holiday.or
I will be going to portugal next holiday.

Hello Ice,

You can use many forms, depending on the meaning you wish to convey. For example, all of the following are possible:

I'm going to Portugal for my next holiday.

I'm going to go to Portugal for my next holiday.

I'll be going to Portugal for my next holiday.

I'll go to Portugal for my next holiday.

Which of these is most appropriate depends on the context. You can see how these forms are used on our page on future forms.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
I went through your getting started page and grammar section carefully but still I am not very sure of present perfect tenses. Would you help me to clear my doubts. For e.g.
It has rained. The road is wet. This means it is not rainning now. It has been rainning for two hours. It has rained for two hours.Both these mean it is raining now or it is not raining now.
Are all these correct or only some.
Please clarify.
Andrew international

Hello andrew international,

We have a page in our Quick Grammar that covers just this topic. The video on Flathunting Scene 2 Language Focus also discusses the present perfect general. Please take a look at those resources and then if it's still unclear, you're welcome to ask us again on one of those pages.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,
I have a doubt in perfect tense. I want to know the difference between " I have been to german" and "I have gone to german".
Usually we use ing form for perfect continuos but in some books or newspaper they are using ed form in perfect continuos, for eg "I have been fascinated", "gandhiji had been assassinated". Why we are using ed form in perfect continuos? What's the reason?

Hello Nithya,

I think there are a few different issues at play here. First of all, 'She has been to Germany' and 'She has gone to Germany' are both present perfect simple (not continuous) forms. Using 'been' implies that she went to Germany and has already returned; using 'gone' implies that she may not yet have returned. 

The other forms you mention are not continuous forms, either. In the case of 'fascinated', there it is an adjective, whereas in the phrase about Gandhi-ji, it is the past participle (third form) that is part of a passive verb. Follow the links I've added to see more about that grammar, and if you'd like to understand the difference between simple and continuous forms, our Present Perfect Simple and Present Perfect Continuous page explains the difference between those two forms.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir :)

I just wanna ask which sentence is correct

When I was in secondary school , I was working in a charity organization
When I was in secondary school, I had been working in charity organization

I just want you to clarify this point, because now I think both past continuous and past perfect continuous give the same meaning

Thanks in advance :)

Hello Moka 18,

Both sentences are possible, but which is appropriate will depend upon the context and the speaker's intention. The second sentence would require some other point of reference, such as how long the person had been working.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Mr. Kirk
i have a doubt please clear it.
i have doing this since last 20 minutes.
i have been doing this last for 20 minutes.

which one is correct.