What is the present progressive tense?

What is the present progressive tense?

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The “present continuous” is also called “present progressive” or present in be + ing”.

We use it to express something that happens while we are talking, an action in progress (or in progress).


The verb to be conjugated in the present tense (Be) + the verbal basis of the verb that interests us to which we add the ending -ing :

subject + am / is / are + verbal basis + ing

  • I am doing
  • he / she / it is going
  • we / you / they are working

The contracted form of Be is often used:

  • I’m doing. She’s going. We’re working.

What is the purpose of the continuous present (or progressive present)?

BE + ING is used to express:

An action that is happening as we speak and that is not yet over:

  • Linda is¬†making a cake now.
  • He‚Äôs¬†listening¬†to the radio.

Something planned for the near future and for which the date is already set:

  • He is¬†going¬†to London on Friday.
  • He’s visiting his family this week-end.

A temporary action:

  • Her mother is¬†working¬†in Rome this month.
  • He’s staying at his friend’s place tonight.

An action that takes time and takes place as we speak:

  • My brother is¬†preparing¬†for his exams.

A trend, a fashion or a change that is happening now or these days:   

  • More and more people¬†are¬†using internet to watch movies.

Repeated actions that irritate/make angry (with always, constantly, forever):

  • Nathan is¬†always¬†coming¬†late.
  • Tina is constantly smoking.

Ongoing actions that do not necessarily happen as we speak:

  • I’m reading a good book at the moment.
  • John is at the University. He’s studying biology.
  • What is she doing these days?

When we talk about changes that are happening now, we often use the following verbs with the continuous present tense:

become / start / rise / get / grow / begin / fall / improve / increase / decrease / change

  • The population of Japan is decreasing.¬†
  • This situation is getting worse.
  • Your english is getting better every day.
  • The cost of living is rising every year.
  • The world is changing very fast.

The negative form:

Just add NOT between the auxiliary and the verb:

  • I¬†am not¬†watching a movie. (or I’m not…)
  • He / she / it¬†is not watching a movie. (or He’s not…)
  • We / you / they¬†are not watching a movie. (or We’re not…)

Ex: I’m not eating at the restaurant for lunch. He’s not listening to the radio anymore.

The interrogative form:

Easy! we put the auxiliary before the subject:

  • Am¬†I watching a movie?
  • Is¬†he / she / it watching a movie?
  • Are¬†we / you / they watching a movie?

Ex: Are you working on your computer now?

In general, continuous present is easy since it is simply necessary to add -ing to the verbal base:

  • Go¬†‚áí¬†Going¬†

But beware of some verbs that change when you add -ing to the verbal base:

Doubling of consonants:

  • sit : he¬†is¬†sitting
  • put : he¬†is¬†putting
  • travel : travelling
  • get : getting

Verbs ending in -e:

You have to remove the -e at the end and replace it with -ing:

  • write : he¬†is¬†writing
  • take : he¬†is¬†taking
  • drive: she’s driving

Verbs ending with two ‘e’ do not change!

  • see : she¬†is¬†seeing ( = she’s seeing)
  • pee: he is peeing ( = he is peeing)

Verbs that end in -ie:

It is necessary to replace the’ie’ by ‘y’.

  • lie : he¬†is¬†lying ( = he’s lying)
  • die: he is dying ( = he’s dying)

Verbs that end in -c

It is necessary to change the ‘c’ to ‘ck’.

  • picnic : he¬†is¬†picnicking
  • panic : he’s panicking

We often use be+ing when we have the following words in the sentence, at the moment we speak:

  • Now
  • At the moment
  • Today
  • These days
  • This week
  • This year¬†
  • Recently
  • Lately
  • Listen!
  • Look!


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