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Step by step English grammar! Verbs ~ Present continuous tense

Present continuous - ing


Present continuous is for verbs that are happening now or near the time of speaking. The verb has started but has not finished yet.



I’m (am) doing
he/she/it is doing
we/they are doing

* I’m making my English blog. = Now (at the time of writing) I started to make this blog but I haven’t finished writing it yet.

A: “Let’s call Kevin!”
B: “It’s only 7:00 am, I think he is sleeping.”

“My teacher is yelling at me because I don’t pay attention in class, but I’m not listening.”

A: “Where are your children?”
B: “They are upstairs getting ready for bed.” = My children are in the middle of changing into their pajamas and brushing their teeth before they go to bed.

“With the Internet, the world is becoming very small.”

It’s raining, could you please close the window?” = Rain is falling now. The rain has started falling but it hasn't stopped.


Present continuous tense


We use NOT with the present continuous to show something isn’t happening at the time of speaking.



“Let’s go out, it’s not raining anymore.”


“My teacher is yelling at me because I don’t pay attention in class, but I’m not listening.”


Present continuous tense


We can also use the present continuous tense if an action has started but not yet finished, even if the action is not happening at the time of speaking.


Please look at the following examples.



I’m reading the biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs now, it’s interesting.”

~ At the time I am writing this sentence I am not reading the book. I’ve started reading the book last week but I haven't finished it yet. I'm reading the book. (Started but not finished.)


“Dave is studying Japanese, learning a second language will make him a better English teacher.”

~ Dave is not studying Japanese right now but he began studying years ago and he is not finished yet.


“Hector is looking for a new apartment.”

~ Hector is at school now, but he started looking for a new apartment 2 days ago and he hasn’t found one yet. The action has not finished.


Present continuous tense

We use the present continuous tense to talk about changes that are happening.


Verbs like: 




change or become


"The weather is changing a lot. Temperatures are getting warmer all over the world."

"My son will graduate university this Spring. He is becoming a man. I'm very proud of him!"




increase, rise, grow, decrease, fall, drop


"House prices in Toronto are rising. You should buy a house soon."

"Japan's population is decreasing."

get, improve, start


"It's getting late, time to go to bed."

"I've been studying hard for 4 months and my English is really improving."

Some verbs we don’t often use the present continuous form with.

Here are a few examples:


think/believe

“I believe in ghosts.” NOT – I am believing in ghosts.
“I think it will rain tomorrow.” NOT - I am thinking it will rain.

*We can say "...thinking about something."

"Jennifer is thinking about going to law school after she graduates."

●Verbs that describe our senses don’t often use –ing

“Do you see me in this company photo?” 
NOT – are you seeing me

“I don’t like that restaurant, it smells bad.” 
NOT – it is smelling bad

*We can use the verb ‘TO BE’ in the present continuous with adjectives to describe how someone is being/acting/behaving now, compared to how they usually act.


Present continuous tense

Rick is being very strange today.” = Today he is acting strange, but it is unusual for him.

Compare with

“Rick is strange.” = He is usually strange, this is his regular condition.



More great English grammar
verb posts!






English grammar - Double negatives

English grammar - Double negatives

I was reading a book the other day. In the book, a university student says: 


"There is nothing I can't do."

This is a common phrase that uses 2 negative words in a sentence. 

"There is nothing I can't do."

Nothing = no thing. Can't = can not.
 This is the same as saying "I can do anything."

Word order is important!


If we change the sentence pattern a little the sentence becomes strange.

"I can't do nothing." ???


English grammar - Double negatives

In this sentence pattern, the 2 negatives would actually make a positive.

● Remember: 
Nothing = no thing. Can't = can not. So this sentence is saying "I can not do no thing." If you can't do no thing, can you do something?

The meaning is confusing so this sentence is not acceptable.

"I can't do nothing."

What about our first sentence "There is nothing I can't do." Is it correct grammar? According to Oxford Dictionaries.com 
Double negatives are still widely used in English where they don’t seem to cause any confusion as to the intended meaning. Nevertheless, they aren’t considered acceptable in current standard English and you should avoid them in all but very informal situations. Just use a single negative instead.
So the sentence "There is nothing I can't do." is not correct grammar, but it is acceptable in less formal situations because the meaning is clear.


English grammar - Double negatives

Many song lyrics sometimes will use a double negative for effect, for the art of songwriting, but we don't use these in conversation. If you told me you "can't get no satisfaction" I would correct your grammar. 

But if you sang...

English grammar - Double negatives

I would understand that incorrect grammar can make the song more interesting! ♫


Let's look at how we express ourselves in more detail and we'll look closely at negatives.



There are 3 basic ways to communicate, affirmative (positive), negative and interrogative (question).

(+) "Eric likes pizza."                  "She's bored."

(-) "Eric doesn't like pizza."        "She's not bored."

(?) "Does Eric like pizza?"          "Is she bored?"


You can see affirmatives and negatives are direct opposites. We can use the adverb not (or the contraction n't) to show a negative or we can use a negative word like never, nowhere, no-one etc. Words with a negative prefix like un, in, dis or non also have a negative meaning. Examples:

  • unpopular - not popular
  • incomplete not finished
  • dishonest not honest
  • non-smoking  you cannot smoke here
vocabulary list

Want to learn even more? 40 common words using negative prefixes

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negative prefixes




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Here is another example:
"Kyle doesn't know nothing about computers." 
The speaker is using 2 negative words to strongly show that Kyle doesn't know computers well. Here the 2 negatives cancel each other, so this grammar is incorrect. We don't use this sentence in natural English.

It's correct to use a single negative to express this idea. Here are 2 ways that are grammatically correct. Each sentence uses only 1 negative.

"Kyle doesn't know anything about computers." 
OR
"Kyle knows nothing about computers."

double negative


Double negatives are sometimes used by native speakers if the meaning is clear. 
"The puppy in the window was so cute! I couldn't not buy him!" 
This means ~ I had to buy the puppy because he was so cute.


double negative

You may have heard double negatives in popular movies or songs. The following phrase is from a popular song from 1974 and I hear it in movies and on TV sometimes:
"You ain't seen nothing yet." 
This means ~ Something special or great is coming. (If you think what happened was good, get ready for something greater.) 
Check out these 2 short video clips:



Review:

If double negatives are used in the same sentence to emphasize a negative meaning the sentence is not acceptable.


"Kyle doesn't know nothing about computers."


At the beginning of this post, we learned that "There is nothing I can't do." is acceptable because we can understand the intended meaning clearly. This sentence also has a positive meaning. "I can do anything."


Here is one more possible example of an acceptable double negative with a positive meaning.

"I don't regret not going to the party."

This means that I'm not sad or upset that I didn't go.


The sentence "Kyle doesn't know nothing about computers." fails because it is trying to express a negative meaning.


Are you still confused? DON'T WORRY!!!! Just stick to the positive vocabulary to express yourself :) If you hear a double negative that sounds odd but you can sense the meaning is positive, now you can understand it!


Here is a list of some songs that use double negatives. The songs have YouTube links (with lyrics) in case you want to listen to them!


(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrIPxlFzDi0


Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tepYJno7rU


Don't Come Around Here No More - Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNvS0UAt58s

I Don't Trust Nobody - George Thorogood
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG5SqY1nCzg

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet - Bachman - Turner Overdrive
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3CFyOxmgTk


Useful English resource pages that helped with this blog post:

English grammar resource
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🖰Click below🠋

double negatives


Step by step English grammar! Verbs ~ Future tense

Simple grammar - Verbs in the future tense



There are 2 common ways to talk about future action.


I'll play tennis tomorrow.
*I’ll is a contraction of ‘I will.’ Contractions are often used in spoken English.
I'm playing tennis tomorrow.

They are saying the same thing, but there is a small nuance that determines if we use I will or I am doing in natural English.

           Click the word to check pronunciation.
nuance noun a very slight difference that is hard to notice.
“A great chef is aware of every nuance of flavor in their food.”



Let me explain this slight difference with 2 more examples. 

① Andrew: Henry is struggling with his current assignment. 
Brad: I have some free time so I'll help him after lunch.

② Kevin: I'm helping Henry move next Saturday. He asked a few of us at work yesterday and I said yes.

Example 1 uses I'll help and example 2 uses I'm helping
Why?

There is a small difference between these 2 examples that is hard to see. Can you find it?


Hint: When did the person in the first example decide to help Henry? When did the person in the second example decide to help Henry?

① In the first example Brad just found out about Henry's trouble, then he decided to help Henry as he was speaking

 In the second example, Henry asked Kevin yesterday if he could help him move, and Kevin said ‘yes.’ Kevin has already decided to help, this is a planned activity.



If a future action has just been decided at the time of speaking we use “I will.

It's starting to rain. I'll go upstairs and shut the windows in our bedroom. (This action was decided at the time of speaking.)

I have some free time so I'll help him after lunch. (Brad just found out about Henry's trouble, he decided to help Henry as he was speaking.) 

If a future action has already been decided or planned we use “I am doing.

I'm having a barbeque party next weekend, I hope it doesn't rain. (The decision to have a party was made before the time of speaking.)

I'm helping Henry move next Saturday. (Henry asked Kevin yesterday if he could help him move, and Kevin said ‘yes.’ This is a planned activity.)

I'm helping Henry move next Saturday.
Lisa is strong so she will carry the heavy boxes!

More explanations with examples.

① Will


Will is an easy way to make the future tense of a verb, so it's common among many of the ESL students that I have taught. Just put the word will in front of your verb and now you're talking about the future. As we saw above will is not always the best choice to talk about the future so be careful. Below are some natural ways we use will.

*In conversation the contraction I’ll, he’ll, she’ll etc. is more common. I have used contractions for the examples in this section.

It’s common to use will after the phrase “I think…” 


It’s a nice day today, I think I’ll ride my bike to work.

I think Wendy will be late for the morning meeting, she's stuck in traffic. 

English verbs future tense
I think she'll be stuck for at least an hour!

Offer 


Math is hard, I’ll help you with your homework after dinner.

If you need a hand to pack your things before the moving van comes we’ll come over and help you tonight.

Agree


Mom: Can you clean up the dishes after dinner?
Son: Sure, I’ll do it right after dessert.


Promise


Daughter: Dad can you come to my school band performance this Friday after work?
Dad: Absolutely! I’ll be there in the front row!

The negative form - won’t - is also common when we promise NOT to do something in the future.


Paul is so rude! We won’t invite him to any more of our parties.

You can trust me, I won’t tell anyone your secret.

English verbs future tense
Your secret is safe with me.

When you ask someone to do something will is the natural fit.


Will you help me with this?

Will you carry a few of these boxes for me?

And when you ask someone about a future situation.


Will you be there on Sunday?

Will it rain tomorrow? 


② I am doing...




As we learned in the first example, I’m doing is used for planned activities, actions we have already decided to take.



I’m watching TV all weekend, it’s been a long week.



I’m watching TV all weekend, it’s been a long week.

I'm going to watch TV for 18 hours straight!



The grammar going to (verb) is also natural in English.



I’m going to watch TV all weekend, it’s been a long week.

Jill’s going to meet her college friend on Saturday.

My wife and I are going to look at houses tonight after work.

We were going to play hockey on Saturday but the arena is closed for repairs.


More great posts about 
English verb tenses!

Now with VIDEO!

Includes a list of the 50 most common irregular verbs in English with 50 example sentences!


Autumn or Fall? Advanced English Study!

In English, the names of the 4 seasons are:


By National Aeronautics and Space Agency [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn.

Now it's Fall, I mean Autumn. Wait, why does our current season have 2 names, Autumn and Fall? That's a good question! Here is what I found out.
🍂The word Autumn, like many English words, has come from other languages. Autumn came from Old French and Latin. According to the article: 

🗣Why Do We Call the Seasons Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter? http://mentalfloss.com/article/52813/how-did-seasons-get-their-names
“Autumn,” meanwhile, came to English via the Old French autompne, from the Latin autumnus.
So where did 'Fall' come from? According to some answers I found on Quora:

🗣What's the difference between "fall" and "autumn"? Is there any difference between the two words? https://www.quora.com/Whats-the-difference-between-fall-and-autumn-Is-there-any-difference-between-the-two-words#
Americans call the period from September to November “fall” because in America, that’s when the leaves of deciduous trees turn yellow and then fall off.
So Fall is used mainly in North America, but not really in England. I'm Canadian so I often use Fall but in England, the leaves stay on the trees until December so Autumn is the natural choice. In Japan, my current home, the leaves stay on the trees much later due to the weather.



I thought this was interesting! All languages are interesting to me. Here is more info on English season names from MentalFloss.com
http://mentalfloss.com/article/52813/how-did-seasons-get-their-names

Spring

Before Spring was called Spring, it was called Lent in Old English. Starting in the 14th century, that time of year was called “springing time”—a reference to plants “springing” from the ground. In the 15th century this got shortened to “spring-time,” and then further shortened in the 16th century to just “spring.” 
1 way to change an adjective to a verb is by adding the suffix ~en. In this quote, the word "shortened" is the past tense form of the verb shorten. It means to make something shorter, this is the verb form of the adjective short.
More on adjectives becoming verbs here: Link

Plants "springing" from the ground
Original source:
“no copyright infringement is intended”


Summer

 “Summer” came from the Old English name for that time of year, sumor. This, in turn, came from the Proto-Germanic sumur-, which itself came from the Proto-Indo-European root sam- (sam- seems to be a variant of the Proto-Indo-European sem-, meaning “together / one").
Proto means - original; from which others develop. 
A prototype is the first design of something from which other forms are copied or developed
Proto-Germanic is the original form of the German language.
Proto-Indo-European is an ancient language on which all Indo-European languages are thought to be based. *The origin of modern Indian and European languages.

https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/proto?q=proto-
https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/prototype?q=prototype
https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/american_english/proto-indo-european

Winter

“Winter,” meanwhile, derives from the Proto-Germanic wentruz. This, in turn, probably comes from the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) wed, meaning “wet,” or it may come from the PIE wind-, meaning “white.”  Either way, the Proto-Germanic wentruz gave rise to the Old English “winter” as the fourth season of the year, and the name for the season has stuck around ever since.


give rise to something
(formal) to cause something to happen or exist
...the Proto-Germanic wentruz gave rise to the Old English “winter”...

~ The use of the Proto-Germanic word wentruz caused the word winter to be used in Old English.
https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/rise_1#rise_1__300

Click below and learn to use the 
passive voice in English!⇩

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Learn 50 common English phrasal verbs! + Lots of real examples!

📚 Learn  50 common English phrasal verbs  What is a phrasal verb? ~ In English, a phrasal verb is a combination (mixture) of ...

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