This article looks at the present continuous. We use it to talk about something that is
happening at the time of speaking or
happening around the time of speaking
So what does the present continuous look like (its form) and when do we use it?
Present continuous form
Present Continuous use
We use it to talk about something that is happening at the time of speaking.
It is nine thirty and I am sitting in my garden and watching the sun go down.
The children are climbing trees for apples.
I’m listening to a really good play on the radio. Come and hear it.
They are playing tennis at the moment. The other team is winning.
We also use the present continuous to talk about something that is happening around the time of speaking.
Peter is studying French and Japanese at University.
I’m reading a really good book at the moment. It’s a historical novel about Cleopatra.
Jane’s learning Spanish. She’s taking lessons with a Spanish teacher who lives nearby. She wants to move to Spain.
Mia and Siegfried have just moved here from Germany. They are living with us at the moment until they can find somewhere to live.
Verbs that do not usually take the present continuous form are verbs of feeling, senses, emotions. These are called ‘stative verbs’.
Some of these verbs can be used with ‘ing’ but the verb takes on a different meaning.
I see what you mean. (understand)
Can you see clearly now. (with your eyes)
I am seeing Peter tomorrow. (future use of ‘see’ to mean meet – I am meeting Peter)
What are you thinking about? (asking about someone’s thoughts at that moment in time)
I don’t think he is going to win. (This is my opinion)
What are you cooking? Something smells good. (present simple use of smell as a fact)
What’s John doing? He’s smelling the wine before he tastes it. (an less common use of smell)
The verb ‘be’ when using in the continuous means ‘behaving or pretending’.
He is a teacher.
The children are being teachers today. We have to pretend to be the students!
Stative verbs can sometimes become nouns.
His hearing is bad. He can’t hear much at all.
The feeling in her legs is coming back now, five months after the accident.
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