Present continuous

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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.[1] It can be employed in both the indicative and subjunctive moods. Approximately 5% of verbs in spoken English are in the present continuous form.[2]

Common uses[edit]

The present continuous is used in several instances:[3][4][5][6]

  • To describe something which is happening at the exact moment of speech[4][5][6]:
The boy is crying.
  • To describe an action that is taking place now but not at the exact moment of speech[5][6]:
He is working in Dubai.
  • To describe an event planned in the future[4][5] (in combination with a time indicator for 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)[5][6]:
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:

Present Continuous Indicative
Singular Plural
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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tense vs aspect | Collins ELT". Retrieved 2018-08-24.
  2. ^ "Present Continuous Tense". Ginseng English. Retrieved 2018-08-24.
  3. ^ "Present continuous (intermediate)". LearnEnglish | British Council. Retrieved 2018-08-24.
  4. ^ a b c "Present continuous". LearnEnglish | British Council. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  5. ^ a b c d e "The present continuous tense - Easy Learning Grammar". Collins Dictionary. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  6. ^ a b c d "talking about the present". British Council. Retrieved 2019-03-03.

External links[edit]