The Present Continuous Tense

By | February 2, 2018

The present continuous tense is also called the present progressive tense.  This tense is used to talk about:

1. things that are happening at the moment of speaking. This means something is happening exactly at the time when somebody is speaking about it. So, when you say,”My mother is frying a fish in the kitchen,” that means,the action of frying is happening exactly at the time when you say it.


a. Maria is writing a letter.
This means that the action (Maria’s writing) is happening exactly at the time when somebody is speaking about it. The speaker sees Maria writing a letter when he says it, or at least he knows Maria is doing it when he says it.

b. My dad is talking on the phone.
This means that the action (your dad’s talking) is happening exactly at the time when you say it.

Compare these two sentences: Maria is writing a letter (right now) vs Maria writes a letter (once a month).
The first sentence implies that the action is happening at the time when the speaker says it, while the second sentence simply means that it is Maria’s habit to write a letter once a month.

2. things that we feel or think will not continue for a long time (temporary situations).


a. My mom and dad are staying with us this week (they do not live with us; they live in another town).
This sentence means that they are living with us only this week (temporary), and they do not live with us.

b. The computer company is now holding a product exhibition at the mall.
This means the company will do it for a period of time only.

3. things that you started doing in the past, and you have not finished doing now.
When you say,”I’m reading an interesting novel,” that does not necessarily mean you are doing it when you say it. That simply means the action (your reading) is not finished yet.

4. annoying situations.
You can also use the present continuous tense to talk about things that you feel are annoying. Words such as always, constantly are used.


1. You’re always loosing the key!
2. She’s always screwing things up!

Remember that we use the progressive tense with a dynamic verb, which usually denotes an action, such as sleep, eat, and study. We do not use it with stative verbs, which usually denote mental state, senses, or feelings, such as believe, like, hate, want, need, love, etc.

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