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The present continuous, also called the present progressive, is a verb form used in modern English that combines the present tense with the continuous aspect. It can be employed in both the indicative and subjunctive moods. Approximately 5% of verbs in spoken English are in the present continuous form.
The present continuous is used in several instances:
- To describe something which is happening at the exact moment of speech:
- The boy is crying.
- To describe an action that is taking place now but not at the exact moment of speech:
- He is working in Dubai.
- To describe an event planned in the future:
- I'm resitting my French exam on Tuesday.
- With always but meaning often (used to emphasize the frequency of an action in a humorous or hyperbolic way):
- My mother is always making me go to school!
- She is always playing with that doll!
- To describe an action that is taking place now and is subject to interruption:
- Ellen cannot come to the phone since she is sleeping.
The present continuous is formed using the simple present form of the auxiliary verb to be together with the present participle of the main verb. The formation of the present continuous is given below, using the verb play as an example:
|First Person||I am playing||We are playing|
|Second Person||You are playing||You are playing|
|Third Person||He is playing
She is playing
It is playing
|They are playing|
To form interrogative constructions in the present continuous, the subject and auxiliary invert; that is, the auxiliary be is placed before the subject. For example:
- a. He is playing. - Statement
- b. Is he playing? - The subject he inverts with the auxiliary contraction is.