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Present Continuous

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Present Continuous Structure

Present Continuous

The present continuous tense, also known as the present progressive tense in some grammar books, is one of the most often used tenses in English. It is also one of the tenses that English learners use incorrectly. It is important to remember that the present continuous tense is generally used to express something happening at the moment of speaking. It is not used to express everyday habits and routines. Everyday habits and routines are expressed using the present simple tense. It is also important to remember that the present continuous is only used with action verbs and not stative verbs.

Listed below are examples, uses and structure of the Present Continuous followed by a quiz.

Things that are happening now, at the moment.

What are you doing?
She's reading in the garden.
They're not standing in the rain.

Actions happening in a period around the present moment in time.

I'm reading "The Surgeon's Mate" by Patrick O'Brian.
Whose account are you working on?
She's studying hard for her final exam.

Future plans and arrangements.

We're having leftovers this evening.
What are you doing tomorrow afternoon?
She isn't coming on Friday.

Common present continuous time expressions include:

at the moment, now, today, this week, this month, tomorrow, next week (for future arrangements ), currently

Structure

Positive

Conjugate the helping verb "be" + verb + -ing.

I'm (I am) -> working today.
You're (You are) -> working today.
He's (He is) -> working today.
She's (She is) -> working today.
It's (It is) -> working today.
We're (We are) -> working today.
You're (You are) -> working today.
They're (They are) -> working today.

Negative

Conjugate the helping verb "be" + not + verb + -ing.

I'm not (I am not) -> coming this evening.
You aren't (You are not) -> coming this evening.
He isn't (He is not) -> coming this evening.
She isn't (She is not) -> coming this evening.
It isn't (It is not) -> coming this evening.
We aren't (We are not) -> coming this evening.
You aren't (You are not) -> coming this evening.
They aren't (They are not) -> coming this evening.

Questions

Question word + conjugate the helping verb 'be' + subject + verb + -ing

What -> are you -> doing this afternoon?
What -> is he -> doing this afternoon?
What -> is she -> doing this afternoon?
What -> is it -> doing this afternoon?
What -> are we -> doing this afternoon?
What -> are you -> doing this afternoon?
What -> are they -> doing this afternoon?

Present Continuous - Passive Voice

The present continuous can also be used in the passive voice. Remember that the passive voice conjugates the verb 'to be'. Seeing the construction 'is being' or 'are being' can seem strange to many learners. The reason for this construction is that 'ing' is added to the conjugated verb which is 'to be' in the case of modals.

Passive subject + auxiliary verb be + to be + ing + past participle

Cars are being made in this factory at the moment.
English is being taught by the teacher now.
Steak is being eaten by the people at table 12.
etc.

The passive use of the present continuous is possible, but is rarely used and sounds artificial.

The present continuous is similar in construction to other continuous forms including the past continuous, the present perfect continuous, the past perfect continuous, the future continuous and the future perfect continuous forms.

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