Present Continuous Tense in English Grammar

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Present continuous tense indicates an action continuing for a period. We use this tense for expressing a present action over a period of time, something that we are in the middle of now. The action has started but it hasn’t finished yet. It is the 2nd class of the major 12 Tenses in English language. Today, i will discuss the basic and primary features of Present Continuous Tense and later, you will get the lesson on the variations of it.


Let’s have some examples:
I am playing cricket now with my friends.
You are making this basket for him.
They are not staying here anymore.

Here is a story for you to understand the Continuous tense clearly.

activities - Present Continuous Tense
It is afternoon and you are playing cricket.
Your uncle is passing beside your playground and after seeing you, he asks you,

”What are you doing now?”
And your answer: ”I am playing cricket now.”
(This is continues tense because when you are telling that you are playing, the task ‘playing’ is going on.) 

I hope now you have understood it meaningfully. And now i want to discuss the basic points on it. Yes, it’s the structure of this tense and its negative and interrogative forms along with examples. Please be attentive now!

What’s the structure? 


Structure of Present Continuous Tense

[am/is/are+(verb+ ing)]

I am writing a letter now.
He is making some baskets.
They are drawing the scenery of the hill.

An interesting point!
Yes, have you noticed that in every sentence, the form of principal verb is (+ing) such as ‘writing’, ‘making’, and ‘drawing’. So, you must remember that continuous tense has a common feature and that is (verb+ing). Besides, you have to use am/is/are according to the forms of subjects.

Here is the guideline:

  • ‘am’ verb will be used only with subject ‘I’.
  • ‘is’ verb will be used with the subjects which are (3rd person+singular) in form such as subjects- ‘he’/’she’/’it’/’Robin’/’Max.
  • ‘are’ verb will be used with the subjects which are (3rd person+plural), (1st person+plural), and 2nd person in form such as subjects- ‘we’/’you’/’they’/’all’.

So, you have now clear idea on the usages of am/is/are in particular area, haven’t you?
 Is it so much difficult?

I hope your answer will be ‘no’. But there is another one point in which most of the learners become confused! And what is that? It is about the forms of verbs when you want to add (-ing) with those.

Rules of adding (verb+ing)

(a.)When a verb ends in a single ‘e’, this ‘e’ is dropped before ‘ing’:  Argue=arguing /Hate=haling /Love=loving
except after age, dye and singe:  Age= aging/Dye= dyeing/Singe= singeing

(b.) verbs ending in ‘ee’:  agree=agreeing /see=seeing

(c.)When a verb of one syllable has one vowel and ends in a single consonant, this consonant is doubled before ‘ing’:  Hit=hitting /Run=running /Stop=stopping

(d.)Verbs of two or more syllables whose last syllable contains only one vowel and ends in a single consonant double this consonant if the stress falls on the last syllable:  Admit=admitting /Begin=beginning /Prefer=preferring
But, Budget=budgeting /Enter=entering (stress not on the last syllable).

(e.)Final ‘1’ after a single vowel is, however, always doubled: 
Signal=signalling /Travel=traveling (except in American English)

(f.) (-ing) can be added to a verb ending in ‘y’ without affecting the spelling of the verb: Carry=carrying /Enjoy=enjoying /Hurry=hurrying

Let’s discuss the negative and interrogative structures  of Present Continuous Tense…

Negative form: am/is/are not +(verb+ ing)
I am not writing a letter now.


Interrogative form: am/is/are +subject + (verb+ ing) +object?
Am I writing a letter now?


Now, finally i will discuss on 2 major points of Present Continuous Tense which will enable you to ensure the correct usages of it.

Point 01:

In present continuous tense, we use some adjuncts of frequency or phrases to explain the action of verb. It is used in sentence when you want to emphasize how often the action takes place. This is often done to express disapproval or annoyance in sentences. The adjunct of frequency is placed after the auxiliary verb. But some adjuncts can also be placed at the last of the sentence.

Many adjuncts of time such as ‘now’ and ‘today’ which refer to the present time are also sometimes used with other tenses. However, there are a few adjuncts which are almost always used with present tenses. You had better memorize those adjuncts because these will help you to distinguish present continuous tense.

Let’s have some examples:
The boys are playing cards at present.
He is reading a story at this moment.
The environment pollution is increasing day by day.
You are gradually improving in your study.

The following is a list of adjuncts which are normally only used with the present Continuous tense:

List of Adjuncts used in Present Continuous Tense
At present At this moment
Currently Now
In this day and age Day by day
Nowadays these days Year after year
Increasingly Rapidly
Gradually On and on
Continually More and more
Always Frequently
Occasionally Now and then
Point 02:   

We know that in present continues tense, we are to add (-ing) with the verbs. But there are some certain verbs in English language which cannot be used in present continuous tense with adding (-ing) form. In this case, you will use Present Indefinite Tense instead of continuous tense.

These verbs can be grouped as follows:

List of Exceptional Verbs Not to be Used in (Verb+ing) Form
Verbs of the Senses feel, hear, see, smell, notice, observe, feel, look, taste
Verbs Expressing Feelings  and Emotions admire, adore, appreciate, care for, desire, detest, dislike, fear, hate, like, loathe, love, mind, respect, value, want, wish
Verbs of Mental Activity agree, appreciate, assume, believe, expect, feel, feel, forget, know, mean, perceive, realize, recall, recognize, recollect, remember, suppose, think, trust, understand
Verbs of Possession belong, owe, own, possess
Others Verbs appear, concern, consist, contain, hold, keep, matter, seem, signify, sound

For an example, in case of verb-‘feel’
Incorrect: I am feeling unwell today.
Correct: I feel unwell today.

These are all about the basic features of Present Continuous Tense. Later, i will discuss the variations of Present Continuous Tense. Try to study this attentively. And if you have any question, let me know.