The Present Continuous

The present continuous verb tense is used to talk about actions in progress. Using this verb tense, you can talk about where you are or what you are doing, as well as ask about where someone or something else is or what they are doing.

Read on for some tips about how to form and when to use the present continuous verb tense, or

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Present Continuous Affirmative

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The present continuous affirmative is formed with "to be" and the present participle (-ing form of the verb.)

 

Examples: I am eating breakfast. / He is wearing his blue shoes. / We are talking.

 

There are some spelling rules for the present participle:

  • if the verb ends in "e," delete the "e" before adding -ing. 
    • Examples: dance -> dancing, ride -> riding
  • if the verb ends in a consonant + vowel + consonant (cvc) double the last consonant before adding -ing.
    • Examples: swim -> swimming, run -> running

Present Continuous Negative

The present continuous negative is formed by adding "not" between the "to be" verb and the present participle.

  • Examples: I'm not eating dinner. / He's not wearing his red shoes. / We're not working.

As in the present simple, you can make contractions with "to be" in two ways:

  • Combine the subject and the verb:
    • I'm not
    • You're not
    • He's not
    • She's not
    • It's not
    • We're not
    • They're not
  • Combine the verb and "not"
    • You aren't
    • He isn't
    • She isn't
    • It isn't
    • We aren't
    • They aren't

Present Continuous Questions

To form yes/no questions in the present continuous, move the "to be" verb in front of the subject.

  • Examples: 
    • Becky is cooking dinner tonight. -> Is Becky cooking dinner tonight?
    • They are coming to the party. -> Are they coming to the party?

To form wh-questions in the present continuous, place the wh-word at the beginning of the sentence.

  • Examples:
    • What are they doing?
    • Where is she going?