Present Continuous Tense: When And How To Use It!

Present continuous tense rules

Present continuous tense is an important tense we often use in our day-to-day life conversations. Present continuous tense is also called present progressive tense. 

Here we are going to see exactly how and when to use this tense. You will be able to learn and understand every aspect of the present continuous tense. 

And you will be able to use this tense more confidently and efficiently in your day-to-day conversations. 

Let’s start… 

Learn the 12 Tenses in English with Examples

What is the Present Continuous Tense?

Present continuous tense is the tense we use to describe or express an action or event that is happening at the time of talking. So, we talk about an ongoing action or event in the present continuous tense. 

Using the present continuous tense, you can describe anything happening around you. You can talk about something that you are doing, or somebody else is doing. Just remember that the action or event should be happening in the present time.

For example: 

I am going. 

They are working. 

She is watching TV. 

It is raining. 

Kids are sleeping. 

Present Continuous Tense Rule

In the above sentences, we have used the helping verbs (Auxiliary): is/are/am. We use both the helping and the main verbs in the present continuous tense.

Rules for Present Continuous Tense: 

SubjectAuxiliaryVerb Form
IAmV+ing
He/She/ItIsV+ing
We/You/TheyAreV+ing

Present Continuous Tense Rule – Auxiliary Verbs

Verb – The “ing” form

Points to remember while changing a verb to its -ing form: 

1. For most of the verbs, we just add “ing.” 

For example; 

Go – Going 

Play – Playing

Read – Reading

Work – Working 

2. If a verb ends with an “e”, we remove “e” and then add “ing.” 

For example; 

Bake – Baking 

Come – Coming

Make – Making

Tak– Taking 

3. If the last three letters of a verb are in the “Consonant Vowel Consonant” sequence, we double the last letter and add “ing”.  

Note: Vowels in the English alphabet are a, e, i, o, and u, while the rest of the letters are called consonants.

Verb continuous form

For example; 

Clap – Clapping

Run – Running 

Stop – Stopping

Sit – Sitting

4. If a verb ends with an “ie”, we replace “ie” with “y” and add “ing.” 

For example; 

Die – Dying

Lie – Lying

Tie – Tying

Present Continuous Tense Structure

Present continuous tense structure and examples
Present Continuous Tense Structure with Examples!

We will be using four different structures for the present continuous tense for four types of sentences. Let’s see them one by one with example sentences.

Present Continuous Affirmative Sentence Structure

Subject + is/are/am + V+ing + Object

Example Sentences:

  •  I am working right now.         
  •  He is working right now.
  •  She is working right now. 
  •  You are working right now.
  •  We are working right now.    
  •  They are working right now.
  •  It is working right now.
  •  Robert is working right now.

Present Continuous Negative Sentence Structure

Subject + is/are/am + not + V+ing + Object

Example Sentences:

  • I am not working right now.  
  • He is not working right now.
  • She is not working right now.  
  • You are not working right now.
  • We are not working right now.       
  • They are not working right now.
  • It is not working right now.
  • Robert is not working right now.

Present Continuous Question Sentence Structure

Is/Are/Am + Subject + V+ing + Object?

Example Sentences:

  • Am I working right now?       
  • Is he working right now? 
  • Is she working right now? 
  • Are you working right now?
  • Are we working right now?
  • Are they working right now?
  • Is it working right now? 
  • Is Robert working right now? 

Present Continuous Interrogative Negative Sentence Structure

Is/Are/Am + Subject + not + V+ing + Object?

Example Sentences:

  • Am I not working right now?  
  • Is he not working right now? 
  • Is she not working right now?  
  • Are you not working right now?
  • Are we not working right now?
  • Are they not working right now?
  • Is it not working right now? 
  • Is Robert not working right now? 

Use Of Present Continuous Tense

i) Something is happening at the time of speaking.

We can describe an ongoing action or event using the present continuous tense.  

Examples:

  • He is taking a shower. 
  • My wife is cooking dinner. 
  • He is watching the news. 
  • Kids are playing in the park. 
  • They are waiting for us. 
  • We are leaving now.
  • I am waiting for the bus. 
  • We are getting late for the party. 
  • It is raining heavily outside. 

ii) Something is happening in the present time but not at the time of speaking.

We can use it in a context when the work might not be going on at the time of speaking, but it is under process at the present time.

For example, “My brother is writing a non-fiction book”.

My brother might not be writing the book right now while I am talking about him. But, he is writing a book these days. It’s an ongoing action though it is not happening at the time of speaking.

Let’s see some examples of such kinds of situations. 

  • I am working on my college assignment. 
  • We are learning English. 
  • He is working on a new project. 
  • She is reading romantic novels these days. 
  • My son is preparing for the entrance exam. 
  • We are decorating our house for Christmas.
  • They are making a new horror movie. 
  • XYZ Company is promoting their newly launched product. 

iii) Something is going to happen in the future.

We can use the present continuous tense to talk about planned future actions or events. 

Examples:

  • He is coming tonight. 
  • We are meeting tomorrow at 10 am. 
  • I am going to Australia next week. 
  • They are leaving for Japan next month. 
  • His new book is coming this year. 
  • The new superhero movie is coming soon. 
  • She is moving to a new location soon. 
  • We are definitely going to her party tomorrow. 
  • I am visiting my parents this weekend. 
  • The flight is leaving in 30 minutes. 
  • Our train is coming in an hour. 

iv) Some kind of change or trend.

We can also use the present continuous tense to talk about some kind of change happening in the present time or some sort of trend. 

Examples:

  • Petrol prices are increasing. 
  • Trains are running late due to the heavy fog. 
  • Pollution is becoming a huge problem nowadays. 
  • The world is dealing with the pandemic. 
  • The water level in the sea is going down. 
  • Her picture on social media is going viral. 
  • Their new video is going viral. 

Contraction or Sort Form in Present Continuous Tense

We often use contracted or short forms of words in day-to-day conversations as well as in writing. 

Here is how we use contractions in the present continuous tense… 

For Affirmative Sentences:

WordsContractionExample
I amI’mI’m cooking
You areYou’reYou’re lying
We areWe’reWe’re working
They areThey’reThey’re coming
He isHe’sHe’s sleeping
She isShe’sShe’s learning
It isIt’sIt’s raining

For Negative Sentences:

For negative present continuous tense sentences, there are two ways to use the contraction.

WordsContractionExample
I am notI’m notI’m not cooking.
You are notYou’re not / You aren’tYou’re not lying. / You aren’t lying.
We are notWe’re not / We aren’tWe’re not working. / We aren’t working.
They are notThey’re not / They aren’tThey’re not coming. / They aren’t coming.
He is notHe’s not / He isn’tHe’s not sleeping. / He isn’t sleeping.
She is notShe’s not / She isn’tShe’s not learning. / She isn’t learning.
It is notIt’s not / It isn’tIt’s not raining. / It isn’t raining.

For Interrogative/Question Sentences:

We cannot use contractions in interrogative/question sentences in the present continuous tense.

WordsContractionExample
Am IAm I cooking?
Are youAre you lying?
Are weAre we working?
Are theyAre they coming?
Is heIs he sleeping?
Is sheIs she learning?
Is itIs it raining?

For Interrogative Negative Sentences:

WordsContractionExample
Am I notAm I notAm I not cooking?
Are you notAren’t youAre you not lying? / Aren’t you lying?
Are we notAren’t weAre we not working? / Aren’t we working?
Are they notAren’t theyAre they not coming? / Aren’t they coming?
Is he notIsn’t heIs he not sleeping? / Isn’t he sleeping?
Is she notIsn’t sheIs she not learning? / Isn’t she learning?
Is it notIsn’t itIs it not raining? / Isn’t it raining?

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