Present Continuous Tense is used to express an action which is in progress. It expresses a continued or ongoing action at present time. The action in Present Continuous Tense takes place at the time of speaking or in current time. Present Continuous Tense is also called Present progressive tense. For example if a person says,” I am going to the market”. It means that he is in the process of going to the market. This kind of actions happens in the current time and thus expressed by present continuous tense.

Forming the present continuous

The present continuous of any verb is composed of two parts – the present tense of the verb to be + the present participle of the main verb.

(The form of the present participle is: base+ing, e.g. talking, playing, moving, smiling)

Note: alternative negative contractions: I’m not going, you’re not going, he’s not going.

Functions of the present continuous

As with all tenses in English, the speaker’s attitude is as important as the time of the action or event. When someone uses the present continuous, they are thinking about something that is unfinished or incomplete

The present continuous is used:

a) to describe an action that is going on at this moment: You are using the Internet. You are studying English grammar.

b) to describe an action that is going on during this period of time or a trend: Are you still working for the same company? More and more people are becoming vegetarian.

c) to describe an action or event in the future, which has already been planned or prepared: We’re going on holiday tomorrow. I’m meeting my boyfriend tonight. Are they visiting you next winter?

d) to describe a temporary event or situation: He usually plays the drums, but he’s playing bass guitar tonight. The weather forecast was good, but it’s raining at the moment.

e) with “always, forever, constantly”, to describe and emphasise a continuing series of repeated actions: Harry and Sally are always arguing! You’re constantly complaining about your mother-in-law!


Affirmative Negative    Interrogative

I am going   I am not going      Am I going?

You are going       You aren’t going.  Are you going?

He, she, it is going He, she, it isn’t going     Is he, she, it going?

We are going        We aren’t going    Are we going?

You are going       You aren’t going   Are you going?

They are going      They aren’t going  Are they going?

BE CAREFUL! Some verbs are not usually used in the continuous form.

The verbs in the list below are normally used in the simple form because they refer to states, rather than actions or processes.


Perception verbs (see, hear, feel, taste, smell) are often used with can: I can see… These verbs may be used in the continuous form but with a different meaning

This coat feels nice and warm. (your perception of the coat’s qualities)

John’s feeling much better now (his health is improving)

She has three dogs and a cat. (possession)

She’s having supper. (She’s eating)

I can see Anthony in the garden (perception)

I’m seeing Anthony later (We are planning to meet)