Present Continuous Tense 1

In this video, we look at the Present continuous tense.

The Present Continuous tense is one of the most common verb forms in English and it is quite easy to learn because fortunately it doesn’t have any irregular forms. In this video we are going to look at the main use, which is to talk about an action that is in progress at or around the time of speaking.
The Present Continuous is used to talk about an action that is in progress and is not finished.

The Present Continuous tense in use.

  • I am taking a break.
  • You are eating an apple.
  • They are building a house.
  • He is reading a book.

As I mentioned the tense itself is quite easy because there are no irregular forms.  All verbs have the ‘ing’ form, even irregular verbs. But present continuous uses the auxiliary verb ‘to be’ which is very irregular and has different forms (am/is/are) depending on the subject.

Here are some more examples in both the long and contracted forms.

  • I am writing.
  • You are working.
  • He is eating.
  • She is running.
  • It is growing.
  • We are laughing.
  • They are studying.

All of these examples are positive but sentences can be expressed negatively or as questions too. If you have seen our video on Basic English Verb Structure you will see more about this. Let’s have a look at them in their negative forms.

  • I’m not writing.
  • You aren’t working.
  • He isn’t eating.
  • She isn’t running.
  • It’s not growing.
  • We aren’t laughing.
  • They aren’t studying.

And the question forms would be.

  • Am I writing?
  • Are you working?
  • Is he eating?
  • Is she running?
  • Is it growing?
  • Are we laughing?
  • Are they studying?

Using the Present Continuous

We use the present continuous to talk about actions that started in the past and continue into the future.
In our original examples:

  • I am taking a break.
  • You are eating an apple.

We are talking about actions that are happening in the current moment. But this is not necessarily the case. In the other examples:

  • They are building a house.
  • He is reading a book.

The actions have started and have not finished but they are not necessarily happening right now, they are happening around now and they are still in progress.
This diagram demonstrates the Process of the Present Continuous. The action begins in the past and continues through the present and and will end in the future. Here are some more examples where this is the case.

  • I am still waking up.
  • Are you eating?
  • We are baking a cake.
  • It isn’t raining

In these examples the action is in process at the time of speaking apart from ‘It isn’t raining’ because it is negative so it is NOT in progress at the time of speaking.
When we use the Present continuous tense it is always true that the action started in the past and continues into the future, but as I mentioned before, it is not always true that it is happening at the moment of speaking. Look at these examples:

  • I am working on a new project.
  • Are you reading that newspaper?
  • She’s studying for a masters.
  • Are you looking for a job?

Here, I am not ‘working’ now I am talking to you. It is obvious that the person in not ‘reading’ now or we wouldn’t need to ask the question. She may be studying at this moment but not necessarily.
So in these examples the action is happening around now. Not necessarily at this moment but it is in progress and hasn’t finished. Sometimes it can be easy to get confused with the present simple tense.
So let’s do a comparison.
With Present continuous ‘I am walking’ the action is in progress. It has started but it hasn’t finished.
With present simple ‘I walk’ the action happens regularly. But each time it starts and ends all over again.
Here is another example. This time, in the present continuous; “She is drawing a picture” she might <click> draw a bit then stop, draw a bit more then stop again and so on. But each time she doesn’t finish and the action of drawing the picture is in process the whole time.
In the present simple “She draws pictures”, each time she draws, she draws a new picture and each time the pictures are started and finished.
So in this video we have looked at the main use of the present continuous tense, to talk about an action in progress at or around the time of speaking. In the next video we will look how we can use the present continuous tense to talk about arrangements in the future.
Then we will see how some times the present simple continuous is used to talk about things that happen more frequently that is expected. There are also some verbs that we can not put into the present continuous tense, these are called state verbs and finally, sometimes we also use the ing form of a verb to make it a gerund and gerunds look like verbs but function differently.

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