Present Continuous Tense and Everything There is to Learn
Our blog topic now is all about the present continuous or present progressive tense. Let us all begin.
A basic education curriculum, elementary and high school, emphasizes to the learners about the importance of mastering grammar rules and exemptions and how to compose sentences correctly. So, we all have been taught and have been familiarized with all the different parts of speech; one of these parts is the verb and its tenses.
In general knowledge, a verb is an action word. However, the complete definition of verb is that it is a word used to modify actions, state of mind, and happening and it is used as the predicate of the sentence. Verb has 3 major tenses; present tense, past tense, and future tense.
The past tense is used to describe things that have already happened, or things that happened in the past. Past tense has 4 sub-tenses. These are simple past, past perfect, past continuous, and past perfect tenses. The present tense tells about the actions that are happening now or things that are continuous. It has 3 sub tenses; simple present, present perfect, and present continuous. Meanwhile, the future tense modifies things that are about to happen. The sub tenses for future tense are simple future, future perfect, future continuous, and future perfect continuous.
All these sub tenses differ from each other and to some, this topic is confusing to learn and understand. So, we want to help you understand each and every topic.
Let us all start to one of the most confusing subtense, the present continuous tense. Worry no more because we will cover the definition of present continuous, where and when are we going to use it and when are we NOT going to use it. Are you ready? Let’s start.
What is present continuous tense?
Present continuous tense is a sub verb tense indicating an action or condition that is happening now or in the present, frequently, or in the future- something may or will continue into the future.
The present continuous is formed using am/is/are + present participle. Present participle takes the –ing form of the verb. When using present continuous in questions, the questions are indicated by inverting the subject and am/is/are. While in negatives, not is just added before am/is/are and the present participle.
Sentence: You are writing a poem.
Question: Are you writing a poem?
Negative: You are not writing a poem./ Are you not writing a poem?
When do we use present continuous tense?
To things or events that are happening now
We use present continuous when the action is happening now (and it is not finished yet) or an immediate event is taking place in the current moment. It can also be used to show that something is not happening now.
She is eating lunch right now and cannot read the letter.
You are learning how to speak and write English now.
You are not swimming now because you are sick.
My aunt is sitting at the table.
She is driving right now so she cannot answer your call.
To Now and To Longer Progressive Actions
In English, “now” can mean this hour, this day, this month, this year, this millennium, and so on. Sometimes, we use the present continuous to say that we are in the process of doing a longer action which is in progress; however, we might not be doing it at this exact second.
I am studying to become a dental surgeon.
I am not studying to become a hotshot lawyer.
She is reading the book Tom Sawyer.
She is not reading any books right now.
Are you working on any special projects at work?
For temporary events or actions
You can use the present continuous tense for longer actions that will take place in temporarily. It does not matter if the action will take a longer or a shorter period of time.
He is studying a new language at the moment.
My mother is obsessing herself to a new Korean drama series.
She is staying in a dormitory for two weeks before she will transfer to her new apartment.
You are going to stand there for a couple of minutes until I will show up.
She is working as a part-time cook time in a fancy restaurant for this summer.
To a new pattern or to a new habit
Another interesting quality of present continuous tense is to describe series of events or actions that are new and way different from a habit in the past. For this scenario, the tense can be used to highlight the difference between the old and new actions. It can also be used to modify habitual actions-whether it is a good habit, or not so good.
This current generation, especially the younger ones, are writing emails a lot less than they used to a few years ago.
You are always running late with all your deadlines!
She was drinking her coffee at 3 in the afternoon before and now she is having it at 6 in the evening.
I like their group because every time we have our group activities, they are always helping each other.
My uncle is cleaning his porch every Thursdays and Sundays unlike before he was cleaning it every Mondays and Saturdays.
Even though the action is in the future but it has been discussed or planned ahead, present continuous will be used in forming this kind of sentence. Take note, it doesn’t matter how long or short the action will take place or will happen.
When we arrive at the airport, we are taking a private car direct to the hotel.
I am meeting my mother at the airport tomorrow.
Our grandmother and grandaunts are visiting us at Christmas.
Sorry, I can’t stay after school today; I‘m playing tennis with my brother and his friends.
My mother is going to the dentist tomorrow because it is here scheduled appointment.
To express annoyance at repeated actions
At some point, the versatility of present continuous tense can be used even just you want to express annoyance or irritation to some people’s actions; especially their repeated actions. The word “always” will be stressed out more in such statements.
What a nuisance! You are always munching your food loudly.
She is always bragging about her expensive bags, shoes, and clothes.
I am getting tired of you always coming late to class.
Why is it always raining in London and some parts of Great Britain?
Why are you always criticizing my words, my actions, and even my decisions in life?
To show process
You utilize the present continuous tense in a sentence that has an appropriate “to be” verb and with a dynamic verb. A dynamic verb shows action and/or process.
My mom is going to throw a celebration for my sister’s because she won a spelling bee. She is preparing 5 flavorful dishes. While, she is cooking the dishes, she also is wrapping a small gift for her daughter.
When not to use present continuous tense!
You cannot use present continuous tense in stative verbs
It’s important to bear in mind that you cannot use the present continuous for all occasions. There are certain restrictions per se. State or stative verbs are not used in the present continuous tense form. A state or stative verb shows an action which is a state of being that does not show qualities of change. Also, you do not use it to describe events that happen normally, or for a long time.
Correct:: I love to play the piano every morning.
Incorrect: I am playing the piano every morning. (This sentence is not correct, unless it was a new habit you had just started.
The first statement, love here does not show an action but rather a state of being or having an emotion. So, the verb should be in present tense. It is also a stative verb because it shows an opinion of someone to something he or she is doing. Consequently, it cannot be related to present continuous tense even if it is a habitual action. Stative verb group include emotions (to love), possessions (to belong), and thoughts (to recognize), and none of these should use the present continuous form.
You cannot use present continuous tense in non-continuous verbs.
Another instance where you should not use the present continuous verb is with non-continuous verbs. These are a small group of verbs that describe things that you cannot normally see someone do, for example: to love, to fear, to want, to cost, and others. With these verbs, you use the present simple tense instead. Also, certain non-continuous meanings for mixed verbs cannot be used in continuous tenses. Instead of using present continuous with these verbs, you must use simple present.
Incorrect: She is loving this chocolate flavored drink.
Correct: She loves this chocolate flavored drink.
Exemption to the rule
There are some verbs that can be both dynamic and stative;and these verbs are the exemptions to the rule. Some examples for this exemption are the verbs “to think” and “to be”.
Now, let us try to expand this rule. Let’s take the verb “be” as our example to understand more the rule.
In dynamic form, the verb be shows action.
She is being bold by ordering the “hottest” pizza in town. (Be is used to show courage)
He is being immature. (Be is used to show that the subject is temporarily being immature)
But in its stative form, be can show a state or being.
She is bold with his decision. (Be verb is stating an opinion, not an action)
He is immature. (The “be” verb is used to describe the subject who is always immature.)
Here are some more examples:
The waiter thinks Scott should save room for pumpkin pie. (Stative and in the simple present)
The waiter is thinking about getting a new job that requires less human interaction, like a veterinarian. (Dynamic and in the present continuous)
Present continuous tense is just one of the many tenses and lessons from the English language you are about to conquer when you are learning the language. This might be tricky and confusing but with a lot of practice, you will be able to master it.
Also, in learning English, always stick to grammatical rules because these rules are not created for nothing, and take note as well all the exemptions to these rules. Yes, there will be times that you will be unsure with your grammatical usage and construction, so, do not hesitate, ask. Asking is one of the best keys to achieve concrete learning.
Lastly, we recommend each person, whenever you are writing use fewer words to show your opinion, thoughts, or ideas because short and sweet messages cannot be beaten.
Do you know more about present continuous tense? Please let us all know. Comment down everything you know and we will greatly appreciate it.
For more fun-filled and engaging articles, read these following blogs: Common Preposition Mistakes you Need to Correct!
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