ReadingESL stories and readings in English for ESL learners


Present Continuous Verb Tense

This is the verb tense used most often to talk about the present.

It is also sometimes used to talk about the future.

This tense can only be used with 'dynamic' verbs.   Stative verbs do not take the continuous tense.    LINK to more about stative verbs



Form (what it looks like):

Affirmative statements Negative statements Example Questions
subject + to be + ing form add not between to be and
the present participle
  to be + subject + ing form
I am riding on a roller coaster
I'm riding on a roller coaster.

You are screaming loudly!
You're screaming loudly!

He is yelling!
He's yelling.

We are having fun!
We're having fun!

They are holding their arms up high.
They're holding their arms up high
I'm not screaming.
You're not yelling.
She isn't having
Lily isn't having fun.

We're not screaming too loudly.

They're not standing up.
What are you doing?
I'm riding a roller coaster.

Are you having fun?
Yes, I am.
No, I'm not.

Are they screaming?
Yes, they are.
No, they're not.

What is he doing?
What's Tom doing?
He's yelling loudly.



To make the present participle:

If the verb ends with..... then   example other verbs
e drop the e,
then add

photo by Emma Fox

What are you baking?

I am baking cupcakes.
You are baking cupcakes.
She is baking cupcakes.

We are baking cupcakes.
They are baking cupcakes.
bake - baking
change - changine
come - coming
freeze - freezing
hope - hoping
leave - leaving
make - making
wave - waving
ie change ie to y,
then add

I am tying
my shoe laces.
You are tying your laces.
He is tying his shoes.

We are tying our shoe laces.
They are tying their laces.
die - dying
lie - lying
one vowel + w, x or y   snow

Is it snowing

Yes, it's snowing.
No, it isn't snowing.
fix - fixing
mix - mixing

draw - drawing
mow - mowing
tow - towing

buy - buying
play - playing
say - saying
stay - staying
one vowel + one consonant
stressed last syllable
double the consonant,
then add

The dolphin is swimming.

I'm swimming.
You're swimming.
He's swimming.
It's swimming.

We're swimming.
They're swimming.
cut - cutting
fit - fitting
get - getting
let - letting
run - running
sit - sitting
swim - swimming
one vowel + one consonant
unstressed last syllable
just add ing listen

Are you listening
to me?

Yes, I'm listening.
No, you aren't listening.
He's listening.

We're listening.
They're listening.
happen - happening
open - opening
remember - remembering
visit - visiting
all other letters just add ing walk, cross

What are you doing?
I am walking home.
I'm crossing
the street.

Are you walking too?

She's crossing the street.

We're walking together.
They're walking with us.
climb - climbing
feed - feeding
jog - jogging
march - marching
ski - skiing
talk - talking
think - thinking
feel - feeling
aim - aiming
rain - raining
jump - jumping
melt - melting
study - studying



Using the Present Continuous Verb Tense

1. to talk about "right now", "at the moment"

a rainy day a man buting a hot dog from a street vendor a man looking down a microscope
It's raining.  They're walking in the rain.
They're not getting wet because they have an umbrella.
I'm waiting for Mike.
He is buying a hot dog for his lunch.
He's buying a hot dog for his lunch.
Leo is busy working at the moment.
is looking down the microscope.


2. for talking about temporary habits or situations

"Like the Dead' by Peter Gene, from flickr
skyscrapers gre, white and black cat
I am staying at my friends' house while my apartment is being painted. Esteban and Nina are living in Toronto for the summer. Susan's looking after Marco's cat while Marco is travelling in Europe.


3. for talking about future actions or plans already made... with time words or phrases.

'PDA at Ramon's party' by gwilmore, from flickr

'montreal' by Alistair Howard, taken from flickr
Anna and Greg are getting married next month.
They are having a small wedding.
Angela is moving to Montreal.
She's leaving tomorrow afternoon.
We are meeting friends at the beach on Saturday.