Different Uses of Present Continuous

A Present Continuous guide for English learners

Image credit: Joanna Bartosz-Donohoe

my last post, I talked about the many different uses of the Present Simple tense. This time, I will discuss the different ways you can use Present Continuous. There’s so much more to this tense than just talking about what is happening at the moment of speaking.

So, as I mentioned above, below is the most common use of Present Continuous:

1. Things happening at the moment of speaking:

  • I am writing an article (now).
  • She is speaking to me (now).
  • We are having a great time (now).
Photo by Adam Whitlock on Unsplash

“We are having a great time!”

There are a few more important uses of Present Continuous to know. Try to think about what they could be.

After you think for a minute, read on to check.

Here are other important and common uses of Present Continuous:

2. Temporary actions that may or may not be happening at the moment of speaking:

  • I usually work from home, but this week I am working at the office.
  • I am learning to drive at the moment.
  • We are currently renovating our house.
  • I am exercising a lot these days.
Photo by Anupam Mahapatra on Unsplash

“I’m exercising a lot these days.”

Have you noticed the time expressions in the examples? They all suggest that these actions are temporary. They are not necessary to use because the fact that you are using Present Continuous suggests that you mean a temporary action.

3. Complaints about bad habits:

  • You’re always leaving the toilet seat up, it’s really annoying.
  • You’re never washing the dishes. Could you start doing it too?
  • The neighbour’s dog is constantly barking. I think I’m gonna talk to them about it.
Photo by Robert Gramner on Unsplash

“The neighbour’s dog is constantly barking!”

This way, you complain about a repeated action that is annoying to you. Notice the words in bold that you use with this type of Present Continuous — they are very common to use when making this sort of complaint. Some other words you can use here are forever and continually.

4. To describe change and development:

  • More and more people are exercising.
  • Your English is improving.
  • The weather is getting better.
Photo by Igor Oliyarnik on Unsplash

“The weather is getting better.”

And, of course, English is very commonly used to express the future! Read on to see:

5. Fixed arrangements , especially social and travel arrangements:

  • I’m meeting Harry tomorrow at eight.
  • We’re going on holiday tomorrow, I’m very excited!
  • Are you doing anything on Friday night?
Photo by S'well on Unsplash

“We’re going on holiday tomorrow, I’m very excited!”

Here’s a summary of the uses:

Image credit: Joanna Bartosz-Donohoe

Written by Joanna Bartosz-Donohoe, founder of Anglica Language School

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