Present continuous | Learn English | Canguro English by Canguro English   4 years ago

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Join Xose and I as we study the present continuous. Don't forget to read the notes below. See you in class!


In English the present continuous is used to describe things that are happening now. In English, now can mean this second, this year, or this century, basically a period of time including now. For example;

I am sitting down
You are learning English
The climate is changing
The present continuous is formed by conjugating the verb to be and then adding -ing to the following verb.

We also use the present continuous for the future, but that will be covered in another class.


Normally we just add the -ing to the verb, but there are some exceptions. Here are some general rules about forming the present continuous;

If the verb ends in e, drop it (apart from ee) e.g. Love/Loving but Agree/agreeing
One syllable, one vowel; double it, e.g. Hit/Hitting
More than one syllable; double it (except if stress is on first syllable) Admit/admitting, but Enter/Entering
If the verb ends in "l" double it (in British English) Travel/Travelling
Negatives and questions

Making negatives and questions in the present continuous is easy! The system is exactly the same as for to be in the present simple.


Stative verbs are verbs that describe states that generally do not change, such as love, hate, prefer, etc, whereas progressive verbs describe states that can change. Stative verbs describe the senses, feeling and emotions, mental activity and possession, the state of being and appearance.

With stative verbs, although the action is happening now, we use the present simple instead of the present continuous, for example;

I hate the city
I don't believe you
Stative verbs are considered wrong to use in the continuous tense, but the usage is changing over time, for example;

I am loving this ice-cream
They weren't understanding me
Some people, especially young people, would consider this construction ok, but it's still non-standard English and should be avoided.

There are also some verbs that should be used as progressive verbs when describing actions now, but because they don't involve continuous movement some people use them in the passive like this;

I am stood at the bar
They are sat on the sofa
He is laid on the bed
But again, it's still non-standard English and should be avoided.


We also use the present continuous with always when the frequency of the action is irritating to the speaker. For example;

He is always losing his keys
He is always working
I always make the same mistakes
Present simple vs. present continuous

So, what is the difference between the simple and the continuous?

We know that the simple describes things in general and the continuous describes things now, for example;

I play tennis (in general)
I am playing tennis (now)
But this can sometimes be confusing, for example;

Anna lives in Paris
Anna is living in Paris
In the example above, both are correct, because she is living in Paris in general and now. But there are two cases when we might want to use the continuous instead of the simple;

If the action is temporary
If the action is new
In the example above the difference is that when we use the continuous we assume that Anna is living in Paris temporarily, or that she recently moved there.

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