What is Present Progressive Tense? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 Present Progressive Tense
  • 0:24 Expressing the Tense
  • 1:35 Basic Sentence Parts
  • 2:15 Forming Present Progressive
  • 3:19 Adding Adverbs
  • 4:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Wiesner-Groff

Amanda has created and taught English/ESL curricula worldwide, has an M.Ed, and is the current ESOL Coordinator for the Saint Louis Public School District.

There are twelve tenses in the English language. This lesson focuses on explaining the present progressive tense. Read on to learn all about how and when to use present progressive.

Present Progressive Tense

Present progressive tense is a tense in the English language used to express the idea that something is not finished. The action is, or is not, in a state of progression. While the focus of the present progressive tense is on what is happening in the present moment, there are a few different ways this can be formed.

Expressing the Tense

There are four ways to use present progressive tense. First, you can use it to describe an action that is, or is not, happening right now, at this very moment. Let's look at some examples:

  • I am running.
  • He is not cleaning.
  • Are they studying right now?

Present progressive tense can also be used to describe a longer, or temporary, action in process that may, or may not, be happening right now. Let's look at some examples:

  • We are still taking dance classes.
  • Are you building a house?
  • I am not studying to become a teacher.

Third, present progressive tense can be used to indicate something that has been planned, and will, or will not, be happening in the near future. Some examples:

  • Are you coming shopping with us after school?
  • They are not taking that vacation next week.
  • Is he meeting you at the coffee shop tomorrow afternoon?

Finally, present progressive tense can be used to describe a habitual action, or something that is always happening. For instance:

  • They are always talking too loudly.
  • I am constantly biting my fingernails.
  • She is always taking too long to get ready.

Basic Sentence Parts

When writing or speaking in the present progressive tense, there are some basic sentence parts you should use. One of these is the subject of the sentence, or who the sentence is about. This might be described with I, you, he, she, it, we, they, etc. Another basic sentence part is the present tense form of the verb 'to be,' which is am, is, are. Another basic sentence part used in sentences with present progressive tense is the present participle of the verb being used, or the verb + -ing. Some examples are dancing, jumping, and crying.

Forming Present Progressive

Now, let's put those sentence parts together to create three types of present progressive sentences: affirmative, negative, and interrogative sentences.

Affirmative sentences state that something is happening. They contain a subject + am/is/are + present participle. Let's look at some examples in action:

  • He is jumping.
  • They are going to the store.
  • I am making cookies.

Negative sentences state that something is not happening. They contain a subject + am/is/are + not + present participle. For instance:

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