Uses of the present continuous tense

The present continuous tense is commonly used with the time adverbs: now, at the moment, today, this morning, evening, afternoon etc.

We have already learned that the present continuous tense is used to describe what is happening at the moment. It can also be used to talk about a plan in the near future. For example, you can use the present continuous tense to describe what you are doing this evening / tomorrow/ next week.

  • What are you doing in the evening? I am writing some letters.
  • What are you doing tomorrow? I am meeting some friends of mine.

Formation of the negatives

Forming the negatives is easy. You just need to put not after the auxiliary verb.

  • What are you doing?
  • I am working. I am not playing.
  • Where are you going?
  • I am going to church. I am not going to the market.
  • What is she doing?
  • She is playing. She is not sleeping.

Formation of questions

In the present continuous tense, we form questions by putting is, am or are before the subject.

Compare:

  • He is coming with us? (Statement)
  • Is he coming with us? (Question)
  • The boys are writing their exam. Are the boys writing their exam?
  • Reshma is going to school. Is Reshma going to school?
  • The child is sleeping? Is the child sleeping?

The present continuous tense is also used to talk about things that are happening around this time.

Read the example sentences given below.

  • I’m working on a new project. (I am not working on the project at this particular moment, but around this time.)
  • I’m reading ‘A Brief History of Time’ this week.
  • I’m doing a short term course in fashion designing.
  • What classes are you taking this year / semester?
  • We’re studying molecular biology this semester.

Notes

There is an important difference between the simple present and present continuous tenses. The simple present tense is used to talk about  things that we do all the time. For example, we use this tense to talk about our jobs, hobbies, habits etc. The present continuous tense is used to talk about things that are happening at the moment of speaking.

Compare:

  • What do you do? I am a teacher / nurse / mechanic / housewife. (This is a question about your job or occupation.)
  • What are you doing? I am washing the clothes / watering the plants / cooking dinner / painting the walls / eating my breakfast / reading a book.

Suggested activity

Write some sentences to describe what you and your friends are doing now, tonight and currently (around this moment)!

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Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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