Describing routines, regular events or facts, feelings or states
always, never, often, seldom, rarely, sometimes, usually, normally, regularly, etc. every day, every week, every month, …
I walk, she walks, they take, he takes
I don’t walk, she doesn’t walk, they don’t take, he doesn’t take
Do I walk? Does she walk? Do they take? Does he take?
Present: Present Progressive
Describing things that happen at the moment of speech or things that happen exceptionally; talking about a plan that happens in the near future
am/are/is (simple present form of to be) + Infinitive + ing
at the moment, right now, just, now, at present, currently, Look!
I am walking, she is walking, they are taking, he is taking
I am not walking, she isn't walking, they aren't taking, he isn't taking
Am I walking? Is she walking? Are they taking? Is he taking?
Past: Simple Past
Talking about things that happened in the past and are completed or over at the moment of speech
yesterday, the other day, in 2009, when, at that time two days ago, a week ago, a month ago, … last night, last week, last month, …
I walked, she walked, they took, he took
I didn't walk, she didn't walk, they didn't take, he didn't take
Did I walk? Did she walk? Did they take? Did he take?
Past: Past Progressive
Describing actions or things that were in progress in the past, even if something else suddenly interrupted this progress
was/were (simple past form of to be) + Infinitive + ing
I was walking, she was walking, they were taking, he was taking
I wasn't walking, she wasn't walking, they weren't taking, he wasn't taking
Was I walking? Was she walking? Were they taking? Was he taking?
Past: Present Perfect Simple
Emphasising the result of something, talking about things that happened at an unknown time in the past, describing things that happened in the past and are not yet completed or over at the moment of speech
have/has (simple present form of to have) + past participle
since, for, already, yet, before, ever, never, still not, so far, just, up to now, recently, until now
I have walked, she has walked, they have taken, he has taken
I haven't walked, she hasn't walked, they haven't taken, he hasn't taken
Have I walked? Has she walked? Have they taken? Has he taken?
Past: Present Perfect Progressive
Emphasising the duration of something, describing things that started happening in the past and are still going on at the moment of speech and/or influence the present
have/has (simple present form of to have) + been + Infinitive + ing
for, since, how long, all day, all day long, the whole day/week/month/year
I have been walking, she has been walking, they have been taking, he has been taking
I haven't been walking, she hasn't been walking, they haven't been taking, he hasn't been taking
Have I been walking? Has she been walking? Have they been taking? Has he been taking?
Past: Past Perfect Simple
Emphasising that something in the past stopped or was over when something else began, describing the fact that something happened before a certain time
had (simple past form of to have) + past participle
already, until that day, never, just
I had walked, she had walked, they had taken, he had taken
I hadn't walked, she hadn't walked, they hadn't taken, he hadn't taken
Had I walked? Had she walked? Had they taken? Had he taken?
Past: Past Perfect Progressive
Emphasising the progress or duration of something, describing things that happened in the past and stopped or were over at a certain time later in the past
had (simple past form of to have) + been + Infinitive + ing
for, since, how long, all day, after, before
I had been walking, she had been walking, they had been taking, he had been taking
I hadn't been walking, she hadn't been walking, they hadn't been taking, he hadn't been taking
Had I been walking? Had she been walking? Had they been taking? Had he been taking?
Describing things that will certainly happen in the future, talking about expectations, hopes or assumptions, spontaneous decisions
will + Infinitive
tomorrow, next week/month/year, in 2021, expect, believe, hope, suppose, think, probably
I will walk, she will walk, they will take, he will take
I won't walk, she won't walk, they won't take, he won't take
Will I walk? Will she walk? Will they take? Will he take?
Describing plans and aims in the future, implications, talking about things that will happen in the near future
am/are/is (simple present form of to be) + going to + Infinitive
tomorrow, next week/month/year, in 2011
I am going to walk, she is going to walk, they are going to take, he is going to take
I am not going to walk, she isn't going to walk, they aren't going to take, he isn't going to take
Am I going to walk? Is she going to walk? Are they going to take? Is he going to take?
Future: Future Progressive
Describing things that will be in progress in the future, talking about things that usually happen in the future
will + be + Infinitive + ing
tomorrow, next week/month/year, in 2041
I will be walking, she will be walking, they will be taking, he will be taking
I won't be walking, she won't be walking, they won't be taking, he won't be taking
Will I be walking? Will she be walking? Will they be taking? Will he be taking?
Future: Future Perfect
Talking about things that will be completed or over at a certain time in the future
will + have + past participle
until, before by the end of the day, by the end of the week, by the end of the month, …
I will have walked, she will have walked, they will have taken, he will have taken
I won't have walked, she won't have walked, they won't have taken, he won't have taken
Will I have walked? Will she have walked? Will they have taken? Will he have taken?
The present progressive tense
Look at the following examples:
- Where is Mum? – She is taking Julia to her dancing lesson.
- What are you doing? – I am doing my homework.
- Are you busy? – Yes, sorry, I am just talking to my boyfriend on the phone.
- We can't make lunch because the cleaning lady is cleaning the kitchen right now.
- Usually I don't have dinner at a restaurant, but today I am meeting an old friend for dinner.
Take another look at the examples above. Then try to answer the following questions. When you answer the second question, more than one answer is possible.
To form a positive statement using the present progressive, use the form of to be am/is/are + the verb + -ing:
- The farmer's wife is just feeding the hens.
- They are going downtown to see a movie.
- I am reading a very interesting book at the moment.
- She is looking for her set of keys.
However, there are some exceptions concerning some groups of verbs:
If you use verbs that end with an -e like to come, to make, to take, to brake, to bake, to save, you have to leave out the -e when adding -ing:
- to take She is taking her son to the doctor.
- to come The family is coming down the street right now.
- to bake I am baking a cake.
- to save We are saving money to buy a new car.
If you use verbs that end with -ie like to lie, to die, you have to change the -ie into y when adding -ing:
- to lie I think he is lying to me.
If you use verbs that end with a short vowel + a consonant like -m, -n, -p, -t like to run, to hop, to cut, to shut, you have to double the consonant when adding -ing:
- to run The kids are running around the yard.
- to hop They are hopping around the room like rabbits.
- to cut She is cutting out something.
Now practise the present progressive tense. Read the sentences below and choose the correct forms.
Read the following text. A girl describes what she sees in a picture. Complete the text. Put the verbs in brackets in the present progressive tense and write them into the gaps.
Watch out! Some verbs are never used in the present progressive tense! These are:
- to be, to seem
- to like, to dislike, to love, to hate
- to wish, to want
- to see, to notice
Also, there are some signal words that indicate that you need to use the present progressive tense. These are:
- right now, now
- at the moment
- at present
To negate a statement, you just negate the form of "to be" using the word not:
- They are not going downtown to see a movie.
- I am not reading a very interesting book at the moment.
- The kids are not running around the yard.
- I think he is not lying to me.
- She is not taking her son to the doctor.
If you want to read again how exactly to negate the forms of "to be" or how to use the short forms, click here.
Practise negative statements using the present progressive tense. Just negate the positive statements that are given.
You pose a yes-no-question using the present progressive in the same way as you would pose a yes-no-question with "to be". If you can't remember the rules, click here.
Just change the word order of the sentence. The question has the following word order: Form of to be + noun/pronoun (+ adverb) + verb + -ing + ….? If you look at the question closely, you can see that you only switch the subject of the sentence and the form of "to be":
- The weather is getting better. Is the weather getting better?
- He is taking the garbage outside. Is he taking the garbage outside?
- The kids are running around the yard. Are the kids running around the yard?
It's the same with negative statements and yes-no-questions:
- The weather is not getting better. Is the weather not getting better?
- He is not taking the garbage outside. Is he not taking the garbage outside?
- The kids are not running around the yard. Are the kids not running around the yard?
Click here to read how to pose a Wh-question. Here are some examples of Wh-questions using the present progressive:
- What are you doing?
- Where are you going?
- Who is calling?
Change the positive statements into questions. To pose the question, use all the words from the statement.
You use the present progressive tense in three different cases:
- to describe what someone is doing at the moment of speech or around the time of speech:
- Where are the kids? – They are playing outside. At the time when the person asks the question, the kids are playing outside.
- to talk about something that is happening and has not finished yet:
- I am reading a really good book at the moment. , The person is reading it at the time, he or she has not finished it yet.
- to express that something is happening out of the ordinary:
- Usually we don't spend much money on cars, but this time we are getting a really expensive one.
Imagine that some of your friends are visiting you. While they are at your place, another friend is calling you on the phone. He or she asks what you are doing at the moment. Think about your answer and write it down. Use the present progressive tense as well as some adverbs of time such as just, right now, at the moment, etc. There is no right or wrong answer! You can take a look at the sample solution if you need to.
At the moment, some friends of mine are with me. We are just sitting around chatting. We are talking about old times. Some people are looking at photos from our school days. Others are searching for our classmates on the internet. Some are just smoking cigarettes outside.