The Present Progressive Tense
Verbing (Present Participle)
The present progressive tense is often overused by non-native speakers of English. It should only be used in the following contexts:
To describe an incomplete action which is in progress at the moment of speaking; usually with time expressions such as: now, at the moment, right now.
To describe a plan or arrangement in the near future; usually with time expressions such as: tonight, tomorrow, this week, this Monday.
To express actions that are repeated regularly; usually with a negative meaning and with the time expressions: always or forever.
Note: A common mistake is using this form to describe what a company sells or produces. In general, a company sells something on a regular basis, so you need to use the present simple tense and not the present progressive.
The present progressive (continuous) is formed using am, is or are together with the ing (present participle) form of the verb.
|Subject||A form of be + Verbing (Present Participle)||Rest of Sentence|
|I||am taking||my final exam tomorrow|
|He / She / It||is sweeping||the floor at the moment|
|You / We / They||are giving||me a headache|
Contractions in the Present Progressive (Continuous)
In general we contract (or shorten) the subject (the person or thing doing the action), and form of be:
Save the long forms for when you want to create emphasis.
When speaking, you should stress the not.
Negatives in the Present Progressive (Continuous)
When shortening a form of be and negative, just remove the o in not and add an apostrophe (‘)
is not > isn’t
are not > aren’t
The negative in the present progressive tense is created using am not, is not or are not together with the ing form (present participle) of the verb.
|Subject||A form of be + Verbing||Rest of Sentence|
|I||am not working||on that project now|
|He/ She/It||isn't sleeping||at the moment|
|You/ We/ They||aren't sleeping||in the marathon tomorrow|
Note: In general, use these contractions in the negative: isn’t, aren’t. Am not cannot be shortened, but you can say I’m not. Save the long forms for when you want to create emphasis.
Yes/No Questions in the Present Progressive (Continuous)
To ask a question that will be answered with either a yes or no, start with Am, Is or Are, then choose your subject (the person or thing doing the action), followed by the ing (present participle) form of the verb and then the rest of your question.
|A Form of be||Subject||Verbing||Rest of sentence|
|Are||you/we/they||buying||steaks for dinner tomorrow|
Wh-Questions in the Present Progressive
Wh- questions are questions that require more information in their answers. Typical wh- words are what, where, when, which, why, who, how, how many, how much.
To create a wh-question, start with the wh-word, then add am, is or are, then the subject (a person or thing that is doing the action), followed by the ing ( present participle) form of the verb and only then add the rest of the sentence.
|Wh Word||A form of be||Subject||Verbing||Rest of sentence|
|What||is||he/ she/ it||doing||right now|
|When||are||you/ we/ they||choosing||the colors for the room|
Tag Questions in the Present Progressive
Tag questions are those short questions that are tagged onto the end of a sentence. They are used just to make sure the person you’re talking to understood what you meant or to emphasize what you said.
They’re formed by using a positive sentence in the present progressive and adding isn’t or aren’t and a pronoun (I, you, we, they, he, she, it) and a question mark. For sentences in the first person (I), use the tag aren’t I?
You may also add a positive tag when you’re using a negative sentence.
As a rule: When the sentence is positive, the tag is negative.
When the sentence is negative, the tag is positive.
Exercises for Present Progressive
Fill in the correct form of the Present Progressive as in the examples.
Examples – Present Progressive (Continuous)