Regular Form: Verb ‘to be’ (am/is/are) + Base of Verb + ING (Present Participle).  Examples of the Present Participle: work + ING = work, talk + ING = talking
Negative Form: Use verb ‘to be’ (am/is/are) + NOT + Present Participle.  Example: He is not working.  / She is not listening.
Question Form (Regular & Irregular Verbs): Verb ‘to be’ (am/is/are) + Subject + Present Participle – Are you working today? / Are you listening?
Irregular Form: There is no irregular form :)!
Definition: In English the Present Continuous Tense is sometimes called the Present Progressive Tense (they are synonyms).  Continuous and Progressive mean unfinished / incomplete or ongoing.  Use this tense when the time/action are unfinished or incomplete in the present.


Person Regular & Irregular Verbs Negative Long Form Negative Short Form
to be + Base Verb + ing
to be + not +

Base Verb + ing

add n’t to verb to be
+ Base Verb + ing
I am walking is not walking I’m not walking
You are walking are not walking aren’t walking
He/She/It is walking is not walking isn’t walking
We are walking are not walking aren’t walking
You are walking are not walking aren’t walking
They are walking are not walking aren’t walking
  • Unfinished or ongoing actions in PresentI’m reading a book.
  • Planned Future Events (personal future plans) – I’m going to Rome next Friday.
  • Also used to talk about habits we find annoying – He’s always biting his nails. (You only need to know this if your level of English is advanced!).

We only need to use the Present Continuous if the time/action are not finished in the present.

Example Sentences:
I work every day but I’m not working today.  It’s Saturday. (Today is not finished so the the action is not finished)
I normally go to work by car but today it’s raining and I’m going by bicycle.  (In this sentence, the time (today) and action (rain) are not finished in the present so we need the Present Continuous.)


Question Word Helping Verb Subject Past Participle
What am I doing today?
Where are you going now?
Why is she/he/it working at the moment?
Who are we meeting tomorrow?
When are you going to the gym?

Beware of the list of verbs that cannot be used in the Present Continuous / Progressive tense.  Verbs such as know or love refer to permanent states of being (at least in the English language).  You therefore cannot say, “I am knowing the book” as you either know the book or don’t.  Similarly, ‘I’m loving it’, McDonald’s popular slogan,  is technically incorrect.  You either love something or someone or you don’t.  In English you cannot be in the process of loving something or knowing something (in these cases, you fall in love or learn something).

EXERCISE PRACTICE: Question Form with the Present Continuous

EXERCISE PRACTICE: Answering Questions in Present Continuous

EXERCISE PRACTICE: Short Forms with the Present Continuous

EXERCISE PRACTICE: Tense Recognition of the Present Continuous

Click here for Lesson Plans and teaching tips on introducing the Present Continuous Tense.

  Present Simple Tense – Form And UsePast Simple Tense – Form And Use   


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