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Mastering the Present Continuous: A Guide to Clear Communication

Aggiornamento: 23 giu 2023

This week in our 7 week review series, we're focusing on the present continuous, which has many other uses than just to talk about "right now"! If you missed last week's post on the present simple, click this link before you read today's post, and if you want to watch the video explanations, click this link. Let's go!

 

Usage and Significance


The present continuous tense is all about what's happening right now, in the present moment. It's like putting on a pair of binoculars and zooming in on the action. We use this tense to talk about things that are currently in progress, unfolding as we speak. But this isn't the only use for the present continuous! Here are some other situations where you can (and should) use this tense in English:


1. Describing ongoing actions: "They are dancing at the party." This tells us that the action of dancing is happening right now at the party.


2. Expressing temporary situations: "I am staying at my friend's place this week." This sentence indicates that my current accommodation arrangement is temporary and limited to this week.


3. Talking about future plans: "We are meeting for lunch tomorrow." In this case, the present continuous tense is used to describe a scheduled event in the future. It suggests that the lunch meeting is already planned and will take place tomorrow.


4. Expressing annoyance or irritation: "He is always interrupting me!" This usage of the present continuous tense adds a touch of annoyance to the sentence, conveying the irritation caused by the ongoing action of interrupting.


 

Formation and Structure


To form the present continuous tense, we need two key ingredients: the auxiliary verb "to be" and the present participle (-ing form) of the main verb. The auxiliary verb "to be" takes on different forms depending on the subject, while the present participle is formed by adding "-ing" to the base form of the verb. Easy, right?


Let's take a look at some examples to get the hang of it:


1. "I am writing a blog post." - In this sentence, "am" is the form of the auxiliary verb "to be" that matches the subject "I," and "writing" is the present participle of the main verb "write." So, it means I'm currently engaged in the act of writing a blog post.


2. "She is studying for her exams." - Here, "is" is the form of the auxiliary verb "to be" that goes with the subject "she," and "studying" is the present participle of the verb "study." This tells us that she's currently hitting the books to prepare for her exams.


3. "We are enjoying the sunny weather." - In this example, "are" is the form of the auxiliary verb "to be" that matches the subject "we," and "enjoying" is the present participle of the verb "enjoy." It means we're currently having a blast soaking up the sun.

 

Common Mistakes to Avoid


1. Forgetting to include the auxiliary verb "to be" in the correct form. For example, saying "He running" instead of "He is running."

2. Failing to add the "-ing" ending to the main verb to form the present participle. For instance, saying "She dance" instead of "She is dancing."

3. Using the present continuous tense to describe permanent situations or habitual actions. For example, saying "I am hating math" instead of "I hate math." Remember, the present continuous tense is for actions happening right now or temporary situations.

4. Forgetting to add the verb "to be" before the subject when asking a question: Are you coming to the party?


So, watch out for these common slip-ups and when in doubt, refer to this handy dandy grammar guide, all ready and set to be downloaded to your device!



 

Glossary

  • to unfold: gradually revealing or making something known or understandable, particularly in a sequential or step-by-step manner

  • annoyance: a noun that refers to a feeling of mild to moderate irritation, frustration, or displeasure

  • to get the hang of [something]: to become comfortable doing something new

  • engaged: in this context, it's a synonym for busy or occupied

  • hitting the books: idiom - to study a lot

  • having a blast: idiom - to have a lot of fun

  • soaking up the sun: idiom - to lay in the sun


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