Present Continuous Tense: Definition & Examples Video

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Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

The present continuous tense is a frequently used tense in the English language. In this lesson, we will go over the definition of the tense as well as how it is used in everyday speech.

What Is Present Continuous Tense?

Present continuous tense, otherwise known as the present progressive tense, is formed when the present tense of the 'to be' verb is connected with a present participle. A present participle is a verb that ends in '-ing'. The present continuous tense allows the speaker to talk about things that are and that are not happening now, temporarily, repeatedly, and in the near future. In this lesson, we will go over the uses of present continuous tense and look at examples to help you fully understand how to properly use this tense in a sentence.

Present Continuous Tense Uses

The present continuous tense cannot be used with non-continuous verbs or mixed verbs. A non-continuous verb is a verb that cannot be physically seen. For example, the verbs 'to love', 'to own', and 'to need' are examples of non-continuous verbs. A mixed verb is a verb that can have multiple meanings and behave like a normal or non-continuous verb. The verbs 'to have' and 'to miss' are examples of mixed verbs.

Let's gain an understanding of the other rules for using present continuous tense by looking at a few examples, starting with talking about the present. The present continuous tense can be used to talk about the present when the speaker is referring to something that is happening in that moment or something that occurs before or after a certain time.

If something is or is not happening at the moment, the speaker might say:

  • I'm running to the store; I'll be home later.
  • The baby is sleeping.
  • I am not eating doughnuts for breakfast.

If something is happening before or after a certain time, the speaker might say:

  • At two in the afternoon, we are eating lunch.
  • When you come home, dinner is cooking in the oven.

The present continuous tense can be used to refer to the present when something is perceived as temporary. The tense is used to discuss something that is in process as well and doesn't necessarily refer to something that is happening at that very moment. For example, the speaker might say:

  • Andrea is studying English at college.
  • I'm spending time in Hawaii for a month this summer.

The present continuous tense is used to speak about the present when something new is different from its former condition. For example, a person might say:

  • What type of music are teenagers listening to these days?
  • Nobody is listening to their parents the same way anymore.

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