THE PRESENT CONTINUOUS TENSE
ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE

THE PRESENT CONTINUOUS TENSE

Form

The Present continuous tense is made up of the present tense of the auxiliary verb to be and the present participle. (i.e. to be + the infinitive + ing): I am singing (am + sing +ing = am singing). You are reading. (are + read + ing = are reading).

 

Functions

The present continuous tense is used to express:

I) an on-going activity (at the present/speaking time):

  • Johnson is reading.
  • Obi and Ada are playing.

 

II) an event that must take place in future: 

  • The Okonkwos are parking out from Nkanu street next Saturday.

 

III) a temporary situation:

  • We are staying for ten days.
  • She is not leaving home yet.

 

IV) a non-exclamatory progressive sentence terminating with here or there:

  • She is coming here.
  • We are going there.

 

V) a frequently repeated action when it is used with always:

  • She is always complaining.

 

NOTE: Some verbs do not appear in the continuous form:

The following are some examples of verbs that are not normally used in the continuous form:

  • verbs of emotion (e.g. love, hate, like, dislike, care, adore, wish, desire).
  • verbs that relate to the five senses (e.g. see, hear, feel, smell, taste).
  • verbs that relate to ownership of things (e.g. own, possess, belong).
  • verbs that relate to thinking (e.g. think, understand, suppose, recollect, recall, know, realize, remember).
  • verbs that relate to appearance (e.g. seem, signify appear, symbolise).

 

Exceptions

When some of the preceding “non-progressive” verbs are used in a special sense, they appear in the progressive form.

Examples

 

NOTE: Do not confuse gerunds with the continuous form of verbs. All verbs used as gerunds bear -ing ending, irrespective of whether they are used in the continuous form or not. As gerunds, they can come before verbs or after verbs and prepositions.

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