The Present Continuous / Progressive


John is in his car. He is in his way to work.
He is driving to work
This means he is driving now: “at the time of speaking”
This is the present continuous.

The past continuous (progressive) tense

This page will present the present continuous:

  • its form
  • and its use.

You may also be interested in a lesson about the past continuous

The form of the present continuous tense

The verb to be (in the simple present) verb + ing

The affirmative forms of the present continuous:

am eating.
You, we, they are
He, she, it is

The interrogative forms of the present continuous

Am I


Are you, we, they
Is he, she, it

The negative forms of the present continuous

I am not eating.
’m not
You, we, they are not
He, she, it is not

The use of the present continuous tense

present continuous

  • The present continuous is used to talk about actions happening at the time of speaking.


    • Where is Mary? She is having a bath. (Not she has a bath)
    • What are you doing at the moment in front of your screen? Don't you know? Well … you are reading this lesson. You are learning English.
  • The present continuous can also be used when an action has started but hasn’t finished yet.


    • I am reading a book; it’s a nice book. (It means = I am not necessarily reading it; I started reading it but I haven’t finished it yet.)

Special verbs

There are verbs which are normally not used in the present continuous.


be, believe, belong, hate, hear, like, love, mean, prefer, remain, realize, see, seem, smell, think, understand, want, wish

These verbs are called stative verbs in contrast to action verbs (also referred to as 'dynamic verbs') such as 'work, play, eat, etc.'

It's not correct to say:

He is wanting to buy a new car.*

You must say:

He wants to buy a new car.

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