Present Continuous

Present Continuous Structure

The present continuous tense, also known as the present progressive tense in some grammar books, is one of the most often used tenses in English. It is also one of the tenses that English learners use incorrectly. It is important to remember that the present continuous tense is generally used to express something happening at the moment of speaking. It is not used to express everyday habits and routines. Everyday habits and routines are expressed using the present simple tense. It is also important to remember that the present continuous is only used with action verbs and not stative verbs.

Listed below are examples, uses and structure of the Present Continuous followed by a quiz.

Teachers will find this guide to teaching the present continuous helpful. 

Now, At the Moment

Use the present continuous tense to express what is happening "now" or "at the moment". This form is used to express daily actions. 

What are you doing at the moment?
She's reading in the garden now.
They're not standing in the rain. They're waiting in the garage. 

Around the Present Moment - Currently

Use the present to continuous to explain actions happening "currently" or around the present moment in time. It is often used in business situations to explain current projects. 

I'm reading last quarter's sales results this week.
Whose account are you working on currently?
She's studying hard for her final exam this month.

For Future Plans

The present continuous is also used to speak about future plans. This form is often used when talking about a schedule. 

We're having leftovers this evening.
What are you doing tomorrow afternoon?
I'm meeting Tom at 2 o'clock for a meeting. 

Present Continuous Time Expressons

They're area  number of common time expressions used with the present continuous. These include: 

at the moment, now, right now, today, this week, this month, tomorrow, next week, currently

I'm reading the paper at the moment.
He's working in the garden right now.
We're studying Shakespeare in class today.
I'm working on a new account this month.
We're having lunch next week. 
They're currently looking for new employees. 

Structure

For positive sentences conjugate the helping verb "be" + verb + -ing.

I'm (I am) -> working today.
You're (You are) -> working today.
He's (He is) -> working today.
She's (She is) -> working today.
It's (It is) -> working today.
We're (We are) -> working today.
You're (You are) -> working today.
They're (They are) -> working today.

For negative sentences conjugate the helping verb "be" + not + verb + -ing.

I'm not (I am not) -> coming this evening.
You aren't (You are not) -> coming this evening.
He isn't (He is not) -> coming this evening.
She isn't (She is not) -> coming this evening.
It isn't (It is not) -> coming this evening.
We aren't (We are not) -> coming this evening.
You aren't (You are not) -> coming this evening.
They aren't (They are not) -> coming this evening.

For que4tions use a question word + conjugate the helping verb 'be' + subject + verb + -ing

What -> are you -> doing this afternoon?
What -> is he -> doing this afternoon?
What -> is she -> doing this afternoon?
What -> is it -> doing this afternoon?
What -> are we -> doing this afternoon?
What -> are you -> doing this afternoon?
What -> are they -> doing this afternoon?

Present Continuous Passive

The present continuous can also be used in the passive voice.

Remember that the passive voice conjugates the verb 'to be'. Seeing the construction 'is being' or 'are being' can seem strange to many learners. The reason for this construction is that 'ing' is added to the conjugated verb which is 'to be' in the case of modals.

To contstruct a passive sentence use the passive subject + auxiliary verb be + to be + ing + past participle

Cars are being made in this factory at the moment.
English is being taught by the teacher now.
Steak is being eaten by the people at table 12.
etc.

The passive use of the present continuous is possible, but is rarely used and sounds artificial.

The present continuous is similar in construction to other continuous forms including the past continuous, the present perfect continuous, the past perfect continuous, the future continuous and the future perfect continuous forms.