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The Present Continuous is a verb tense in English. It is also known as the Present Progressive. In general, we use the Present Continuous for an action that is in progress at the moment.
To form the Present Continuous, we use the auxiliary verb ‘be’ and the present participle. For example:
- I am writing
- You are writing
- He/she/it is writing
- We are writing
- You are writing
- They are writing
Before we go further, what is the present participle? The present participle is the form of a verb that ends in ‘-ing’ and is used in continuous verb tenses and also as an adjective. Notice that it is not the same as the gerund.
Let’s see some more examples of the Present Continuous:
- I’m looking at the wall.
- He’s making lunch at the moment, I’m sure it’ll be ready soon.
- I’m studying right now, so I can’t get a drink with you, sorry.
There is another use of the Present Continuous apart from actions that are in progress at the moment. We can also use it to talk about our arrangements. What are arrangements? They are future plans, things that we will definitely do.
Here we must be careful to differentiate between this use of the Present Continuous and the construction “to be going to.” We use “to be going to” when speaking about future intentions. For example, if you have the intention to go to a pizza restaurant this week, you could say: I’m going to go out for pizza this week.
Will you definitely go out to a pizza restaurant this week? Not definitely. Most likely, yes. Probably yes. But it doesn’t mean that it is absolutely going to happen.
To communicate that something is absolutely going to happen beyond any doubt, we use the Present Continuous. Notice that when we use the Present Continuous in this way, we speak about a future time: tomorrow, after work, next week, etc.
- We’re going to Italy next month.
- She’s bringing cake to the party.
- I’m getting a drink with some friends after work.
Practice what you’ve learned in the exercises!
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- The present Continuous
- Remember vs Remind
- Much, Many, Few, Little
- Tail Questions — Part II
- Using ‘Should’ for the Past and Future
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