Here you'll learn about the present continuous tense with examples. This tense is also known as the present progressive.
We'll look at how the tense is formed and when it is used.
We form the present continuous tense by using the present tense of 'to be' (i.e. am, is, are) and then adding '-ing' to the verb.
The different forms are illustrated in the table below. For the question form, 'to be' is placed at the beginning or after the question word (e.g. where, when etc) if one is being used.
The main use of the present continuous tense is to refer to temporary events and actions.
This means something that has begun but has not finished or is in the process of being completed. What is important is that the event or action is occurring for a limited period of time, which includes the moment of speaking.
This can be shown by this present continuous tense timeline:
Events or actions can also be intermittent and repeated, and not necessarily occurring at the time of speaking. An example of this is shown in the timeline below - the cycling to work is temporary (for one week) but is repeated each day over 5 days.
It's wrong though to think that we only use the present continuous tense for things happening now. We'll now look at some other situations for which we can use the present continuous tense with examples.
We also use the present continuous tense for changing or developing states, with verbs such as:
We use this tense even though the state may not be viewed as being temporary.
For things that we do on a regular basis we use the present simple (e.g. I play football every weekend).
But with certain time expressions, we can also use the present continuous. For example:
The present continuous is used to emphasise the repetitiveness of an action, and sometimes the fact that it is irritating.
Though the grammar rule is generally that the present continuous tense is not used with state verbs, we can use it to express desires, mental states, senses and appearances.
Using it in this way emphasises the temporary nature of the particular state.
These are not things that are always true (present simple). They are temporary situations. The 'wanting to come' is temporary and will not last forever. And although the person is loving living in their house, that could change.
We can also use the present continuous tense to talk about the future. There is often a time phrase in the sentence, or in the question.
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