Present Progressive – Verb Meaning and Use

There are seven different ways to use the Present Progressive (also called the Present Continuous).  This tense is usually only used with active verbs, and if it is used with stative verbs there is a difference in meaning.

This post will show you how to use the Present Progressive. To see how to form the Present Progressive, click here.

1. The Present Progressive is used for activities in progress at the exact moment of speaking.  Time expressions such as now, right now, and at the moment often occur with the Present Progressive tense.

  • Can you call back later? We are studying at the moment.
  • Shhh!! I‘m trying to concentrate!
  • Look, it‘s raining, again!!
  • They‘re playing basketball.
  • You are studying the Present Progressive right now.

2. The Present Progressive can also express the extended present, actions that are in progress but not happening at the exact moment of speaking. You can use time expressions such as this week or these days to show when the action is happening. The action may be ongoing, or may start and stop repeatedly.

  • She‘s taking a computer course this semester.
  • I‘m looking for a cheap car, do you have any ideas?
  • They‘re renovating their kitchen this month, it‘s taking a long time.
  • I‘m in the middle of reading a really good book.

3. Temporary situations can be expressed with the Present Progressive, if we feel that the situation is not permanent and won’t continue for a long time.

  • I‘m staying with a friend this week.
  • She‘s living in Seoul for a few months.
  • Jack‘s working at a cafe until he finds a job in his field.

4. Temporary or new habits can also be expressed with the Present Progressive. (for regular habits that have continued for a long time, and are permanent, choose the Present Simple)

  • I‘m drinking a lot of coffee this week!
  • You‘re smoking too much.
  • They‘re working late every night.

5. The Present Progressive is used to describe a situation which is slowly changing.

  • My grades are improving this year.
  • Technology is getting cheaper all the time.
  • Global warming is becoming an important issue.
  • My English is getting better!

6. The next use is for definite future plans, used with a future time expression.

  • I‘m having lunch with Jackie tomorrow.
  • We‘re going to France next week!
  • She‘s leaving at three.
  • They‘re going to the movies on the weekend.

7. And lastly, we use the Present Progressive to complain about a situation, usually with adverbs of frequency, such as always, constantly, continually, and forever.

  • You‘re constantly missing the train.
  • James is always losing his keys.
  • She‘s forever talking on the phone.

One thought on “Present Progressive – Verb Meaning and Use

  1. Pingback: All Twelve English Verb Tenses | Present Simple ESL

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