Present continuous tense

Present continuous

We use ‚present continuous‘ to express that:

  1. something is happening right now

  2. something is happening at present period repeatedly. We also expect the action to finish at a definite point.


to be (is/are) + verb+ing


study, play, etc. = studying, playing (‚y‘ at the end)

write, ride, etc. = writing, riding (vowel at the end)

shop, put, etc. = shopping, putting (from the end combination consonant-vowel-consonant, the last consonant doubles)


I am writing a letter to my dad. (happening right now)

You are shopping at M&S every Friday. (repeated activity at present)

He is studying history at university. (only this term, when it’s finished, it’s finished)

She is reading an interesting book about Greek mythology at present. (it doesn’t mean that she is reading the book at this very moment!)

It is raining outside. Take an umbrella, will you?

We are driving to work every day this week.

They are visiting her parents in Bolton this weekend.


I am not going to school any more.

You aren’t taking a train to work this month.

He isn’t staying with his friends in Nice for a week. He is staying in a B&B.

She is not preparing for her exams properly and thus she will fail them all.

It isn’t snowing today.

We are not learning to drive this year. Maybe next year.

They are not talking to each other at the moment. (we expect it to finish)


On the phone: ‚Are you out tonight?‘ Yes, I am.

Is he drinking with you? No, he isn’t.

Is she telling them about her plans for next year? Yes, she is.

Is it raining outside? No, it isn’t.

Are we watching TV tonight? Yes, we are.

Are they staying with you this week? No, they aren’t.

We also use ‚present continuous‘ for the future arrangements WHEN those arrangements are about 99.9% certain to happen. Only the end of the world could change our plans! (so to speak )

There are some verbs which are not normally used in ‚present continuous‘ tense.

Using them in ‚present continuous‘ could change their meaning! BUT it is possible to use some of them in informal English.

This is a list of some commonly used verbs:

  • verbs of senses: feel, hear, see, smell, sound, taste
  • verbs of feelings: love, hate, like, want, fear, respect, admire, adore, dislike, wish, prefer, impress, concern
  • verbs of mental activity: agree, believe, expect, know, mean, remember, trust, understand, recognise, realise, suppose, imagine, doubt
  • verbs of possession: belong, own, owe, possess
  • other verbs: astonish, appear, deny, seem, surprise, consist, include, fit, involve