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What is the Present Continuous Tense?

Present Continuous is one of twelve English tenses. Its full name is the Present Continuous Tense but it is also called the Present Progressive Tense. The Present Continuous Tense is also one of the basic English tenses. Your story with the English tenses usually begins either with the Present Simple Tense or the Present Continuous Tense.

When it comes to the present tense we can divide it into three parts, i.e. three basic tenses. The Present Simple Tense, the Present Continuous Tense and the Present Perfect Tense. All of them are present tenses but we use them for different situations or actions.

We use the Present Continuous Tense when we talk about situations that are happening or going on now, at the moment. This is one of the most frequent uses of this tense. But we also use it for situations that are happening ‘around now’ like temporary situations or for fixed plans for the future. See more uses below.

present continuous uses

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When to use Present Continuous?

There are many Present Continuous uses but in this post I would like to focus on five basic ones. These present continuous uses will help you to understand what this tense is about and what actions and situations we are talking about.

We use Present Continuous when we talk about situations or actions that are happening now. It means that you can actually see that somebody is doing something at the moment. You can see or hear this activity right now. For example:

  • You are reading this post now.
  • She is using the computer at the moment.
  • I am explaining the Present Continuous uses to you right now.
  • You are learning when to use Present Continuous now.
  • She is doing her homework and her Dad is doing laundry at the moment.
use present continuous

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We use Present Continuous when we talk about our fixed plans for the future. It means that you know, you are sure that something will happen in the future because you have already planned it yourself. These are private plans that somebody has made on their own. For example:

  • I am meeting my friends today. (not actually now but you know it will happen soon because you and your friends have already planned it)
  • Our grandma is visiting us next weekend. (not at the moment but you know that she will come because she has already told you)
  • What are you doing on Friday evening? (you aren’t asking exactly about this moment but about plans for someone’s near fututre)
  • Peter and Kate are getting married in two months. (everything has already been arranged)
  • What are you wearing for the weeding? (not now but what are you planning to wear in two months?)
is doing

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We use Present Continuous when we talk about temporary situations. it means that the situation isn’t happening just now but around the present. It is just for some period of time. We know that the situation will change soon. For example:

  • This month Tim is preparing for his final exams. (not necessarily now but during the present month, after that time he will stop)
  • I am not meeting my friends this week, I have to study.
  • We are living in Berlin for two months. We are on a student exchange.
  • These days we are working on a new project.
  • Currently, she is doing nothing. She‘s waiting for job offers.
present continuous

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We use Present Continuous when we talk about the exception to the rule. It means that somebody wants to emphasise that the situation which is happening, for example today, is different than usual.

  • I usually drink coffee but today I am drinking some herbs because I have a stomachache.
  • I am not going to school today, I’m ill.
  • She usually does her homework in the evening but today she is doing it in the afternoon because she has a meeting at 9 p.m.
  • My son always plays games in the evening but today he‘s studing. He’s got a test tomorrow.
  • My mum usually goes to work by bike but today she‘s going by bus. It’s really cold.
present continuous tense

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We use Present Continuous when we talk about situations or actions that are often repeated by someone and it is annoying or strange for us. It means that when we want to show our irritation with someone’s habits we can use the Present Continuous tense. The time expressions like always, never, forever, constantly are very common in this case. For example:

  • You are always leaving your dirty clothes everywhere!
  • He is never listening to me!
  • Mike is forever forgetting something.
  • They are constantly making a mess!
  • Why are you always arguing?! I can’t stand it anymore.
learn the present continuous uses

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Practise and learn the Present Continuous uses.

Learn the Present Continuous uses and read the sentences below. Can you say which the Present Continuous uses they are? Are they sitiations that are going on now or plans for the future, or irritations, or temporary situations, or maybe exceptions to the rules?

  • Why are you crying? Can I help you somehow?
  • They are always making so much noise!
  • I‘m not eating sweets, I’m on a diet these days.
  • I usually go out in the evening but today I‘m looking after my little sister.
  • We are going on holidays in two weeks!
Why are you crying

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If you still have some doubts, try the online exercises below. The quizzes can help you learn the Present Continuous uses. If you think that you already understand and know when to use the Present Continuous tense, check the exercises as well. Find out if you can score 100% in the quizzes. The exercises are not only some tasks to do, there are a lot of example sentences thanks to which you get a lot of practice.

I hope that this post as well as the online quizzes will help you understand better and learn the Present Continuous uses. If you want, you can add your own sentence examples in the comments, they might be some examples from your own experience. The more sentences, the better.

EXERCISE 1

0%
19

You’ve got 3 minutes to complete the task. Don’t waste your time!

That’s fine! Try again.


Beginner

Present Continuous Use, Exercise 1

Choose the correct use of Present Continuous for the given sentences.

1 / 12

She is always leaving a mess! I can’t stand it.

2 / 12

Are you going to Mike’s party on Friday?

3 / 12

You are never closing the fridge door!

4 / 12

This month I’m not eating any chocolate.

5 / 12

Are you going shopping this evening?

6 / 12

I usually go to work on foot but today I’m going by car.

7 / 12

Tim is studying at the moment. He’ll call you back later.

8 / 12

Bob and Hannah are getting married in three months.

9 / 12

Our grandparents are coming tomorrow.

10 / 12

What are you watching?

11 / 12

This week I’m living with my grandparents.

12 / 12

Mia isn’t going to school today. She’s ill.

Your score is

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EXERCISE 2

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17

You’ve got 2 minutes to complete the task. Don’t waste your time!

That’s fine! Try again.


Beginner

Present Continuous Use, Exercise 2

Choose the correct sentence for the given uses of Present Continuous.

1 / 5

Plans for the future

2 / 5

Exceptions to the rule

3 / 5

Irritation

4 / 5

Temporary situations

5 / 5

NOW

Your score is

The average score is 73%

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