Present continuous

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The present continuous, also called the present progressive or present imperfect, is a verb form used in modern English that combines the present tense with the continuous aspect.[1] It is formed by the present tense form of be and the present participle of a verb. The present continuous is generally used to describe something that is taking place at the present moment and can be employed in both the indicative and subjunctive moods. It accounts for approximately 5% of verbs in spoken English.[2]


The present continuous is formed by the present tense form of be and the present participle (-ing form) of the verb.[3][4]

For example, you would write the verb work in the present continuous form by adding the -ing suffix to the verb and placing a present tense form of be (am, are, is) in front of it:[3]

  • I am working.
  • You are working.
  • She is working.
  • We are working.
  • They are working.


The present continuous is used in several instances. Its most common use is to describe something that is happening at the exact moment of speech:[3]

  • The boy is laughing.

This contrasts with the simple present, which is used to refer to something that occurs habitually (i.e. habits, unchanging situations, general truths, and fixed arrangements).[5][6]

The present continuous is also used to describe a temporary activity, even if it is not taking place at the exact moment of speech, or a temporary situation:[7]

  • They are working in Dubai.
  • I am writing a book.
  • I am living in Scotland until the end of the year.

This contrasts with permanent activities or situations, which are described using the simple present:[8] I live on Main Street.

Present continuous can also describe an event planned in the future when combined with a time indicator for the future:[3][7]

  • I am resitting my French exam on Tuesday.

When combined with always, but meaning often, the present continuous can be used to emphasize the frequency of an action in a humorous or hyperbolic way:[7][9]

  • My parents are always making me go to school!
  • She is always playing with that doll!
  • He is always eating chocolate!

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Tense vs aspect | Collins ELT". Retrieved 2018-08-24.
  2. ^ "Most Common English Verb Tenses | Ginseng English | Learn English". Ginseng English. Retrieved 2022-01-04.
  3. ^ a b c d "Present continuous". LearnEnglish. British Council. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  4. ^ "Present Continuous". Present Continuous. 2015-10-30. Retrieved 2022-01-04.
  5. ^ "Present Simple and Present Continuous | Learn English". Retrieved 2022-01-04.
  6. ^ "Simple present tense | EF | Global Site". Retrieved 2022-01-04.
  7. ^ a b c "The present continuous tense - Easy Learning Grammar". Collins Dictionary. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  8. ^ "Present simple". LearnEnglish. 2010-03-19. Retrieved 2022-01-04.
  9. ^ "talking about the present". British Council. Retrieved 2019-03-03.