Grammar Review 1: Present Continuous

The present continuous talks about something happening now. This tense also exists in several other languages, such as Spanish and Portuguese.

In English, the present continuous is formed by using a subject (a noun or a pronoun) + the agreeing form of the verb to be (conjugated in the present simple) + a verb ending in -ing (the verb that indicated what is happening/what someone is doing) + the rest of the sentence (such as a direct or indirect object, location, transition…).

This may seem a bit confusing, but let’s take a look at an example:

We are reviewing the present continuous.

In the example above, we have a subject (we), an agreeing form of “to be” (are), a verb in -ing (reviewing) and the rest of our sentence, in this case, a direct object (the present continuous).

Let’s review the conjugations of the verb TO BE in the present simple. This verb only has three different conjugations in the present simple. However, even intermediate and advanced students still tend to get confused by it occasionally.

TO BE

  • I am
  • You are
  • He/she/it is
  • We are
  • They are

Remember: English only has one word for “you” and the verb conjugations stay the same, regardless of if you’re talking about the singular or the plural.

Usage

Typically, the present continuous is used to indicate that someone (or something) is in the middle of doing something. This means that the action was started and did not finish yet.

However, it does not always mean that the action is happening at the time of speaking.

For example, you may be reading a good book, but at this exact moment, you are reading this post. You are still in the middle of reading your book because you already started it and haven’t finished it yet. However, you are not reading it at this exact moment.

Here are some more examples:

  1. Johnny wants to move to New Zealand, so he’s learning English.
  2. I am eating a delicious apple pie right now.
  3. “Susan, are you studying for your exam?”
  4. “Don’t distract me! I’m driving now.’
  5. We are not working now; we are playing a game.

Some more notes:

Remember, it’s also possible to use contractions when using the verb “TO BE”. You can say either “he is” or “he’s“. Both options are correct.

What about the negative and questions?

To form a question using the present continuous, all you have to do is invert the the form of the verb to be and the subject. The rest of the sentence stays the same. Keep in mind that the subject can be either a noun or a pronoun. Also, don’t forget to add the question mark at the end!

For Example

Statement: Your parents are working at the airport today.

Question: Are your parents working at the airport today?

Negatives

To form a negative sentence in the present continuous, you just need to add “not” after the conjugated form of “to be”. That’s it!

For example:

Statement: Your parents are working at the airport today.

Negative Statement: Your parents are not working at the airport today.

~~~~

Bonus tips for advanced learners!!

The present continuous is also used when we talk about a period of time that involves the present moment. Some examples are today and other periods of time with “this” before them.:

  • this afternoon/morning/evening (only if it’s currently that time of day)
  • this week
  • this month
  • this semester
  • this year

For example:

  1. I am studying a lot this month because I need to get a good TOEFL score.
  2. Jess is working a lot today because her restaurant is understaffed.

Present Continuous to talk about changes

The present continuous doesn’t necessarily have to talk about an action. It can also be used with changes that are currently taking place.

Below are some verbs that are typically used to talk about changes:

  • get
  • change
  • become
  • increase
  • rise/fall (these two are antonyms)
  • grow
  • improve
  • begin/start (these two are synonyms)

Some Examples:

  1. I think your English is getting better.
  2. The unemployment rate in the USA is increasing rapidly.
  3. Brazil’s economy is growing.

I hope that you enjoyed today’s post! If you learned something new, don’t forget to share it with your friends and subscribe to receive future posts in your inbox!

Published by janisachatte

A language lover and teacher. Also a writer and traveler. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, trying new foods, and gardening. I love to swim and kayak as well.

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