We use the present progressive tense in English to talk about things that are happening at this moment. It is also called the present continuous tense. I believe it is one of the easiest tenses in English and I hope that I convince you of that in this article.
When to Use the Present Progressive
- Actions that are happening in this moment.
- It can be used to talk about fixed plans in the future.
- Things that happen often.
Words That Indicate That You Should Use This Tense
When you use any of the following signal words you have to use the present continuous:
- at the moment
- right now
How to Form This Tense
The hardest part of this tense is conjugating “to be”. I’m not kidding, all you have to do for this tense is conjugate “to be”. Now, add the base form (the infinitive) of the verb plus “ing”, this is called the present participle. Here is the recipe:
CONJUGATED “TO BE” + PRESENT PARTICIPLE + “ING”
The base form or infinitive of a verb is the version of the verb that you would use in the present tense, without an “-s”.
Conjugating “To Be”
I wrote a post on English verb conjugation, but I’ll give you a quick recap here.
Present Progressive Examples
For this tense, you start with the subject and add the conjugated form of “to be”. After that, you put the verb and add “ing” to the end of the verb. Here are some examples:
I am sitting.
Rita is sitting.
You are sitting.
If the verb is only one syllable which is stressed and ends on on a vowel followed by one consonant, double the consonant and add “ing”:
run – running
pat – patting
sit – sitting
But if a one syllable verb that ends on a vowel followed by one consonant is not stressed, you just add “ing”:
fix – fixing
shout – shouting
With two syllable verbs ending on a vowel followed by one consonant where the last syllable is stressed, the last letter is also doubled before you add “ing”:
forget – forgetting
compel – compelling
begin – beginning
But if a two syllable verb ends on a vowel followed by one consonant and the last syllable is not stressed, the last letter is not doubled. You just add “ing”:
listen – listening
follow – following
orbit – orbiting
If the verb ends on a consonant followed by an “e”, take away the “e” and add “ing”:
smile – smiling
ride – riding
write – writing
If the verb ends on two vowels followed by one consonant, do not double the consonant, just add “ing”:
rain – raining
read – reading
look – looking
If the verb ends on two consonants, do not double the consonant, just add “ing”:
push – pushing
inject – injecting
stand – standing
For verbs ending on “ie”, you change the “ie” to “y” and then add “ing”:
untie – untying
die – dying
lie – lying
Questions in the Present Continuous
Asking yes or no questions in the present continuous tense is similar to asking them in the simple present tense; you only move the conjugated verb to the start of the sentence. Let’s use the sentence “Mary is sleeping” as an example:
“Is Mary sleeping?”
You can, of course also add a question word to the start of that question:
Why is Mary sleeping?
Where is Mary sleeping?
Here is a list with all the possible question words that you can use:
Negatives in the Present Progressive
In this tense, you only add “not” after the conjugated from of “to be” to the sentence. Here are some examples:
She is not ill.
They are not brothers.
I am not a student.
The Simple Present vs the Present Continuous
The simple present tense is used for habits, usual activities and general truths whereas the present progressive is used for actions happening in this moment.
In the simple present we use “do” or “does” in negatives, but in the present progressive we use “am”, “is” or “are”.
Furthermore, the present progressive always uses “am”, “is” or “are” in questions. The simple present, on the other hand, can either use “am”, “is” or “are” or “do” or “does”.
Non-action Verbs Not Used in the Present Continuous
Some verbs are not used in the present continuous tense because although they are verbs, they do not indicate an action and the present continuous is always about actions. Some of these verbs are:
- think (when it means believe)
It is important to note that sometimes these verbs are used as action verbs, meaning they do indicate an action. In these cases they can be used in the present continuous. Take a look at this article on the exceptions of non-action verbs.
Concluding Thoughts: The Present Progressive Tense in English
The present progressive is one of the easiest tenses in English and probably also the most used one. So, if you know how to use it, you are well on your way to speaking English fluently.
P.S. If you liked this post and would like to be notified when I post new content, feel free to join my mailing list. You can also save it to Pinterest to read it again later by clicking on the button below:
Leave a Reply