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Present Continuous Tense Formula: Everything You Need to Know

by Louise W. Rice
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Present continuous tense, or present progressive tense is used to describe ongoing actions, currently changing situations, or planned future events.

The present continuous tense formula is subject + verb to be + present participle [verb in (ing) form].

Keep on reading to know more about the present continuous tense, how, and when to use it!

Definition of Present Continuous Tense

Present continuous tense, also known as present progressive tense, is used to describe ongoing actions or tasks of the present, like: I am playing football.

It’s also used to express planned future events, such as: Jack is watching the movie with Jill next Saturday.

You can use the present continuous tense to describe changing situations, as well. For example, the polar ice-caps are melting faster each year.

Formula

Form Structure Example
Affirmative [+] Subject + verb to be + present participle He is eating lunch.
Negative [–] Subject + verb to be [am, is, are] + not + present participle He is not eating lunch.
Question [?] Be [am, is, are] + subject + present participle Is he eating lunch?

Signal Words

A signal word is a word that lets you know that the sentence you’re reading belongs to a certain tense. In present continuous tense, these words include:

  • Now/ Just now/ Right now
    Example: It’s raining right now.
  • At present
    Example: My son is studying law at present.
  • At the moment
    Example: They’re playing basketball at the moment.
  • Still
    Example: Her computer is still working after 10 years.

Sentence Structure Rules

The present continuous tense is very easy to apply, and the structure is pretty straightforward. Here’s how to formulate sentences using this tense.

Affirmative (Positive) Sentences

In positive sentences, all you need is a known subject, either a noun or pronoun, the appropriate version of the verb to be (am/is/are), and the present participle of the main-sentence verb.

Subject (I) am Present Participle
Subject (He/She/It) is Present Participle
Subject (We/They) are Present Participle

Examples:

  • I am doing my homework now.
  • She is playing video games with Sarah tomorrow.
  • They are going out with their friends on Sunday.

Negative Sentences

When trying to express a negative sentence, you add not after the verb to be and follow the structure of a positive sentence.

Subject (I) am not Present Participle (Verb+ing)
Subject (He/She/It) is not Present Participle (Verb+ing)
Subject (We/They) are not Present Participle (Verb+ing)

Examples:

  • I’m not paying this price for a meal!
  • He’s not giving her any attention at the moment.
  • We’re not attending school tomorrow, it’s a holiday.

Question Sentences

And If you’re asking a question, you start with the verb to be, then add the subject, and then the main-sentence verb in present participle (verb+ing), and end with a question mark (?).

Am Subject (I) Present Participle (Verb+ing)
Is Subject (He/She/It) Present Participle (Verb+ing)
Are Subject (We/They) Present Participle (Verb+ing)

If you’re using a question word [What/When/How/Why/Who], just add it to the beginning of the sentence and follow the same sentence structure.

Examples:

  • Am I dreaming or is there a celebrity in the coffee shop right now?
  • Is he coming with us to the mall?
  • Are they planning to attend the concert on Friday?
  • Who is playing against the champion this game?
  • What are you doing this long weekend?
  • How is he handling this awful news?

Passive Voice

The passive voice in the present continuous tense is quite simple as well. You use it when the subject is unknown, only the object. The structure is as follows: Object + verb to be (am/is/are) + being + past participle.

The negative form in passive voice just adds not after am/is/are. And questions are asked using the form: Am/Is/Are + object + being + past participle?

Examples:

  • Affirmative: Her favorite song is being played on the radio.
  • Negative: Her favorite song isn’t being played on the radio.
  • Question: Is her favorite song being played on the radio?

Exercises on the Present Continuous Tense

  1. My daughter__________ (play) a word game right now.
  2. Are__________ (you / go) out?
  3. Jack__________ (do) some chores at the moment.
  4. Alex__________ (work) on his science project nowadays.
  5. Her kids__________ (run) in the garden now.
  6. Your neighbors__________ (wait) to talk to you.
  7. My wife_________ (not stay) home today.
  8. __________ (Tish / study) for her exam right now?
  9. __________ (Ryan / play) the guitar now?
  10. Monica and I __________ (paint) the garage walls today.
  11. Andrea__________ (work) with me at present.
  12. My father__________ (not listen) to the radio now.
  13. Selena__________ (drink) coffee now.
  14. I__________ (vacuum) the apartment floor right now.
  15. My children__________ (watch) TV now.
  16. What__________ (she / look) at right now?
  17. __________ (your dog / hide) from me?
  18. What book__________ (you / read) nowadays?
  19. Thomas__________ (drive) Sheila home now.
  20. I__________ (wash) my clothes at the moment.
  21. What__________ (she / show) to you right now?
  22. __________ (Jess / go) to the club tonight?
  23. Why__________ (you / run)?
  24. Jason__________ (fly) a kite now.
  25. I__________ (try) to finish my project at the moment.

Answers

  1. My daughter is playing a word game right now.
  2. Are you going out?
  3. Jack is doing some chores at the moment.
  4. Alex is working on his science project nowadays.
  5. Her kids are running in the garden now.
  6. Your neighbors are waiting to talk to you.
  7. My wife is not staying home today.
  8. Is Tish studying for her exam right now?
  9. Is Ryan playing the guitar now?
  10. Monica and I are painting the garage walls today.
  11. Andrea is working with me at present.
  12. My father is not listening to the radio now.
  13. Selena is drinking coffee now.
  14. I’m vacuuming the apartment floor right now.
  15. My children are watching TV now.
  16. What is she looking at right now?
  17. Is your dog hiding from me?
  18. What book are you reading nowadays?
  19. Thomas is driving Sheila home now.
  20. I’m washing my clothes at the moment.
  21. What is she showing to you right now?
  22. Is Jess going to the club tonight?
  23. Why are you running?
  24. Jason is flying a kite now.
  25. I am trying to finish my project at the moment.

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