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Step by step English grammar! Verbs ~ Present continuous tense


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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.




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