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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