Present Continuous Positive
(sometimes called the present progressive)

subject + verb “be” + present participle (verb+ing)

The Form
  • I am reading
  • you are reading
  • he is reading
  • she is reading
  • it is reading
  • we are reading
  • you are reading
  • they are reading
  • I‘m reading
  • you‘re reading
  • he‘s reading
  • she‘s reading
  • it‘s reading
  • we‘re reading
  • you‘re reading
  • they‘re reading

The contracted form is used a lot when people are speaking. it is used when writing to friends and people we know, but it is not normally used in formal situations, like in formal letters and reports. It is the subject and the verb “be” that are contracted in this tense.

Here are some examples of the present continuous:

  • I am travelling to Madrid.
  • You are meeting with HR.
  • He‘s applying for a new job.
  • We‘re reviewing salaries at the moment.
  • It is raining.
  • You’re looking great!
  • They‘re waiting for you.
Present participle

In English grammar there is a past participle and a present participle. We use the past participle with the perfect tenses and the passive voice. We use the present participle with the continuous tenses and for adjectives.

It is formed by adding “-ing” to the base form of the verb. It does not matter if the verb is regular or irregular, you simply add the “-ing” to form the present participle (continuous form). For example:

Regular verbs

  • I work (present simple) – I’m working (present continuous)
  • He reads (present simple) – He’s reading (present continuous)

Irregular verbs

  • They lie (present simple) – they’re lying (present continuous)
  • We run (present simple) – we’re running (present continuous)
Common mistakes

Action (dynamic) verbs can be used in both simple and continuous forms:

  • I exercise everyday. (present simple, repeated action). This is good!
  • I am exercising now. (present continuous, I’m doing this right now). This is also good

However, there are some verbs that are called stative verbs. These refer to states, feelings and emotions, opinions, thoughts, senses and perceptions, possesion and measurement. For example:

  • I own two mobile phones. (this is a stative verb) This is good.
  • I am owning two mobile phones. This is not good.

There are some stative verbs that are beginning to be used in the continuous form, such as “I am loving it”. So, this rule is important to know, but be aware of exceptions!

Spelling rules for the present participle

For most verbs, you simply add “-ing” to the base form of the verb. “work” becomes “working”. However, there are a few verbs where the rules are a little different.

  • When the last letter of a verb is an “e”, you remove the “e” and then add “-ing”. Loose – loosing.
  • When the last letters of the verb are “ie” change the “ie” to a “y”, then add “-ing”. Lie – lying.
  • When the last letters of the verb are consonant-vowel-consonant and the final syllable is stressed, double the last letter (unless it is “w”, “x”, or “y”). Shop – shopping. Stop – stopping.

Practice Here

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