Present:

 
   
 
Use
 
Describing routines, regular events or facts, feelings or states
 
Structure
 
  • I/you/we/they + Infinitive
  • he/she/it + Infinitive + s
 
Signal words
 
always, never, often, seldom, rarely, sometimes, usually, normally, regularly, etc. every day, every week, every month, …
 
Positive statement
 
I walk, she walks, they take, he takes
 
Negative statement
 
I don’t walk, she doesn’t walk, they don’t take, he doesn’t take
 
Question
 
Do I walk? Does she walk? Do they take? Does he take?
 
 

Present: Present Progressive

 
   
 
Use
 
Describing things that happen at the moment of speech or things that happen exceptionally; talking about a plan that happens in the near future
 
Structure
 
am/are/is (simple present form of to be) + Infinitive + ing
 
Signal words
 
at the moment, right now, just, now, at present, currently, Look!
 
Positive statement
 
I am walking, she is walking, they are taking, he is taking
 
Negative statement
 
I am not walking, she isn't walking, they aren't taking, he isn't taking
 
Question
 
Am I walking? Is she walking? Are they taking? Is he taking?
 
 

Past: Simple Past

 
   
 
Use
 
Talking about things that happened in the past and are completed or over at the moment of speech
 
Structure
 
  • Regular verbs: Infinitive + ed
  • Irregular verbs: simple past form
 
Signal words
 
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, …
 
Positive statement
 
I walked, she walked, they took, he took
 
Negative statement
 
I didn't walk, she didn't walk, they didn't take, he didn't take
 
Question
 
Did I walk? Did she walk? Did they take? Did he take?
 
 

Past: Past Progressive

 
   
 
Use
 
Describing actions or things that were in progress in the past, even if something else suddenly interrupted this progress
 
Structure
 
was/were (simple past form of to be) + Infinitive + ing
 
Signal words
 
while
 
Positive statement
 
I was walking, she was walking, they were taking, he was taking
 
Negative statement
 
I wasn't walking, she wasn't walking, they weren't taking, he wasn't taking
 
Question
 
Was I walking? Was she walking? Were they taking? Was he taking?
 
 

Past: Present Perfect Simple

 
   
 
Use
 
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
 
Structure
 
have/has (simple present form of to have) + past participle
 
Signal words
 
since, for, already, yet, before, ever, never, still not, so far, just, up to now, recently, until now
 
Positive statement
 
I have walked, she has walked, they have taken, he has taken
 
Negative statement
 
I haven't walked, she hasn't walked, they haven't taken, he hasn't taken
 
Question
 
Have I walked? Has she walked? Have they taken? Has he taken?
 
 

Past: Present Perfect Progressive

 
   
 
Use
 
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
 
Structure
 
have/has (simple present form of to have) + been + Infinitive + ing
 
Signal words
 
for, since, how long, all day, all day long, the whole day/week/month/year
 
Positive statement
 
I have been walking, she has been walking, they have been taking, he has been taking
 
Negative statement
 
I haven't been walking, she hasn't been walking, they haven't been taking, he hasn't been taking
 
Question
 
Have I been walking? Has she been walking? Have they been taking? Has he been taking?
 
 

Past: Past Perfect Simple

 
   
 
Use
 
Emphasising that something in the past stopped or was over when something else began, describing the fact that something happened before a certain time
 
Structure
 
had (simple past form of to have) + past participle
 
Signal words
 
already, until that day, never, just
 
Positive statement
 
I had walked, she had walked, they had taken, he had taken
 
Negative statement
 
I hadn't walked, she hadn't walked, they hadn't taken, he hadn't taken
 
Question
 
Had I walked? Had she walked? Had they taken? Had he taken?
 
 

Past: Past Perfect Progressive

 
   
 
Use
 
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
 
Structure
 
had (simple past form of to have) + been + Infinitive + ing
 
Signal words
 
for, since, how long, all day, after, before
 
Positive statement
 
I had been walking, she had been walking, they had been taking, he had been taking
 
Negative statement
 
I hadn't been walking, she hadn't been walking, they hadn't been taking, he hadn't been taking
 
Question
 
Had I been walking? Had she been walking? Had they been taking? Had he been taking?
 
 

Future: Will-Future

 
   
 
Use
 
Describing things that will certainly happen in the future, talking about expectations, hopes or assumptions, spontaneous decisions
 
Structure
 
will + Infinitive
 
Signal words
 
tomorrow, next week/month/year, in 2021, expect, believe, hope, suppose, think, probably
 
Positive statement
 
I will walk, she will walk, they will take, he will take
 
Negative statement
 
I won't walk, she won't walk, they won't take, he won't take
 
Question
 
Will I walk? Will she walk? Will they take? Will he take?
 
 

Future: Going-to-Future

 
   
 
Use
 
Describing plans and aims in the future, implications, talking about things that will happen in the near future
 
Structure
 
am/are/is (simple present form of to be) + going to + Infinitive
 
Signal words
 
tomorrow, next week/month/year, in 2011
 
Positive statement
 
I am going to walk, she is going to walk, they are going to take, he is going to take
 
Negative statement
 
I am not going to walk, she isn't going to walk, they aren't going to take, he isn't going to take
 
Question
 
Am I going to walk? Is she going to walk? Are they going to take? Is he going to take?
 
 

Future: Future Progressive

 
   
 
Use
 
Describing things that will be in progress in the future, talking about things that usually happen in the future
 
Structure
 
will + be + Infinitive + ing
 
Signal words
 
tomorrow, next week/month/year, in 2041
 
Positive statement
 
I will be walking, she will be walking, they will be taking, he will be taking
 
Negative statement
 
I won't be walking, she won't be walking, they won't be taking, he won't be taking
 
Question
 
Will I be walking? Will she be walking? Will they be taking? Will he be taking?
 
 

Future: Future Perfect

 
   
 
Use
 
Talking about things that will be completed or over at a certain time in the future
 
Structure
 
will + have + past participle
 
Signal words
 
until, before by the end of the day, by the end of the week, by the end of the month, …
 
Positive statement
 
I will have walked, she will have walked, they will have taken, he will have taken
 
Negative statement
 
I won't have walked, she won't have walked, they won't have taken, he won't have taken
 
Question
 
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.
 
 
  1. How do you form the present progressive tense? Hint
     
    • form of to be (am/is/are) + verb + -ing
       
    • infinitive form of a verb
       
     
  2. When do you use the present progressive tense?
     
    • to talk about something that is happening and has not finished yet
       
    • to talk about a fact or a state like feelings, likes and dislikes
       
    • to say that something (usually an action) is a regular routine, event or a fact
       
    • to express that something is happening out of the ordinary
       
    • to describe what someone is doing at the moment of speech or around the time of speech
       
     
 
 
 

Positive statements

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.
 
 
  1.  I 
     on the computer.

     
  2.  Julia 
     the door.

     
  3.  Tom and Tobi 
     a movie.

     
  4.  At the moment I 
     a letter to my friend.

     
  5.  John 
     to his brother right now.

     
  6.  Usually we meet our parents on Sunday, but this week we 
     them on Saturday.

     
 
 
 
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.
 
 
  •  "There is a huge train station in the picture. Many people 
     (to walk) around. Some people 
     (to talk) to each other. Most people 
     (to carry) a piece of luggage. I think I also see a woman. She 
     (to wait) for her train."
     
 
 
 
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
  • just
  • at present
  • currently
  • Look!

Negative statements

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.
 
 
  1.  Politicians are having a hard time these days.
     
    Hint
     .

     
  2.  He is taking the garbage outside.
     
    Hint
     .

     
  3.  We are fighting all the time these days.
     
    Hint
     .

     
  4.  The weather is getting better.
     
    Hint
     .

     
  5.  I am having fun at this party!
     
    Hint
     .

     
 
 
 

Yes-no-questions

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?

Wh-questions

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.
 
 
  1.  He is doing the grocery shopping!  
     ?

     
  2.  John and Tobi are watching TV.  
     ?

     
  3.  Julia is reading a good book.  
     ?

     
  4.  You are going to the party.  
     ?

     
 
 
 

Use

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.

 
 
 
 

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