Present Continuous Tense - Explore Meaning, Definition, Formula, Uses, Structure with Examples

Are you wondering how the present continuous tense can be used? Well, fret no more. You just came across a sentence with the present continuous tense. In this article, you will learn all that you need to know about what the present continuous tense is, its definition, uses, structure and rules of usage. Along with these, with the examples and practice questions, you will surely be able to use the frame sentences using the present continuous tense accurately.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Present Continuous Tense

The Present Continuous Tense, as the name suggests, is the form of tense that is used to denote an action that is ongoing or occuring in that current moment. It is also referred to as the present progressive tense as they represent the action that is progressing in the present. Let us now take a look at the definitions provided by various dictionaries about the present continuous tense.

Definition of the Present Continuous Tense

The Cambridge Dictionary defines the ‘present continuous tense’ as “the verb form used for actions or events that are happening or developing now.” According to the Collins Dictionary, the present continuous tense is defined as “a verb form consisting of an auxiliary be in the present tense followed by a present participle and used especially to indicate that a present action or event is in progress, being repeated, or of a temporary nature or to express the future.” The present continuous tense is “the tense used to talk about actions or behaviour that are in progress now or planned for the future”, according to the Macmillan Dictionary.

Structure of the Present Continuous Tense

There is definitely just one formula to mastering the present continuous tense and this is how it goes.

Subject + am/is/are + present participle (verb+ing) + the rest of the sentence

However, there is something more you should pay attention to. You should also learn how the sentences with the present continuous tense form of the verb are structured when they are positive, negative, interrogative and negative interrogative.

Have a look at the table given below to have a deeper understanding of the structure of the present continuous tense.

Structure of the Present Continuous Tense

Positive

Negative

Interrogative

Negative Interrogative

Subject + am/is/are + present participle (verb+ing) + the rest of the sentence

Subject + am/is/are + not + present participle (verb+ing) + the rest of the sentence

Am/is/are + subject + present participle (verb+ing) + the rest of the sentence

Isn’t/aren’t + subject + present participle (verb+ing) + the rest of the sentence

(Or)

Am/is/are + subject + not + present participle (verb+ing) + the rest of the sentence

Examples:

  • I am reading a newspaper.
  • You are doing it wrong.
  • He is playing tennis.

Examples:

  • I am not reading a newspaper.
  • You are not doing it wrong.
  • He is not playing tennis.

Examples:

  • Am I reading a newspaper?
  • Are you doing it wrong?
  • Is he playing tennis?

Examples:

  • Am I not reading a newspaper?
  • Are you not doing it wrong? / Aren’t you doing it wrong?
  • Is he not playing tennis? / Isn’t he playing tennis?

Rules and Points to Remember When Using the Present Continuous Tense

When using the present continuous tense, make sure you follow the sentence structure exactly.

  • Always start with the subject when it is a positive or negative sentence and with the helping verb when it is in the interrogative format.
  • A sentence with the present continuous tense consists of a helping verb (‘to be’ form of verbs) and a main verb. The helping verbs can be ‘am’ for the pronoun ‘I’, ‘is’ for singular subject and ‘are’ for a plural subject.
  • Just note that like the other pronouns, the pronoun ‘am’ cannot be used in the negative form in an interrogative sentence. Instead of ‘amn’t’, ‘aren’t’ is used.

For example:

    • Amn’t I reading a newspaper? Wrong
    • Aren’t I reading a newspaper? Correct
  • The present continuous tense can never be used with stative verbs.

Uses of the Present Continuous Tense

Like the simple present tense, the present continuous tense is also generally used to talk about an action that is taking place in the present. The only difference is that it denotes an action that is continuing to happen or progressing at the current moment.

Take a look at the following points that elaborate on the more specific uses of the present continuous tense.

  • It is used to represent an action that is happening or progressing in the moment that the speaker is speaking.

For example:

  • My son is working on his science project.
  • Santana is singing Don’t Rain on my Parade.
  • It is used to depict a future event or arrangement.

For example:

  • What are you planning to do tomorrow?
  • I heard that Rachel is moving to Paris next month.
  • It is used to denote an action that is going on or continuing at the time of speaking.

For example:

  • Is she still working at the National Institute of Medical Sciences?
  • I am currently taking guitar lessons so that I could play for your wedding.

Examples of Present Continuous Tense

Going through more and more examples can only make you an expert in the particular subject or topic. So , here you go. Check out the examples of sentences using the present continuous tense given below.

10 Sentences Using the Present Continuous Tense

  • My mom is cooking dinner.
  • The band is playing all the classics.
  • Monica and Rachel are going on a trip tomorrow.
  • Sheethal is not practising for the final audition.
  • I am trying out something new.
  • They are not travelling to London next week.
  • Are you watching a movie tonight?
  • Is your phone working properly now?
  • The children are loving the new park.
  • Diana is playing the main role in the play.

Test Your Understanding of the Present Continuous Tense

Having gone through all the given examples, you should have understood really well. Check your understanding of the present continuous tense by filling in the blanks in the following sentence with the right form of tense using the verbs given in the brackets.

1. ______ the clock ________ (work)?

2. The teachers ___________ (plan) to dance to all the latest songs on Childrens Day.

3. ______ she ___________ (play – negative) the piano anymore?

4. The dog __________ (run) all around the garden.

5. We ____________ (go – negative) to the party tomorrow.

6. The Bellas ___________ (perform) the songs of the 80s.

7. Will, Smith and Sherlock ___________ (dance) well.

8. _______ I __________ (look) good today?

9. Trinita and Vinitha ____________ (ride) on their new cat.

10. _____ he still ________ (stand) there?

Ready to see if you got it all right. Check out the answers given below.

1. Is the clock working?

2. The teachers are planning to dance to all the latest songs on Childrens Day.

3. Is she not playing the piano anymore?

4. The dog is running all around the garden.

5. We are not going to the party tomorrow.

6. The Bellas are performing the songs of the 80s.

7. Will, Smith and Sherlock are dancing well.

8. Am I looking good today?

9. Trinita and Vinitha are riding on their new cat.

10. Is he still standing there?

Frequently Asked Questions on Present Continuous Tense

What is the present continuous tense?

The Present Continuous Tense, as the name suggests, is the form of tense that is used to denote the action that is ongoing or occuring in that current moment. It is also referred to as the present progressive tense as they represent the action that is progressing in the present.

What is the definition of the present continuous tense?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines the ‘present continuous tense’ as “the verb form used for actions or events that are happening or developing now.” According to the Collins Dictionary, the present continuous tense is defined as “a verb form consisting of an auxiliary be in the present tense followed by a present participle and used especially to indicate that a present action or event is in progress, being repeated, or of a temporary nature or to express the future.” The present continuous tense is “the tense used to talk about actions or behaviour that are in progress now or planned for the future”, according to the Macmillan Dictionary.

What is the formula to be followed when using the present continuous tense?

The formula to be kept in mind and used when writing or speaking a sentence in the present continuous tense is as follows:
Subject + am/is/are + present participle (verb+ing) + the rest of the sentence

Give some examples of the present continuous tense.

Here are a few examples to show you how the present continuous tense is used.

  • The band is playing all the classics.
  • Monica and Rachel are going on a trip tomorrow.
  • Sheethal is not practising for the final audition.
  • Are you watching a movie tonight?
  • Is your phone working properly now?

What are the uses of the present continuous tense?

The present continuous tense can be used to talk about an action that

  • is happening or progressing in the moment that the speaker is speaking.
  • depicts a future event or arrangement.
  • is going on or continuing at the time of speaking.

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