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Present Continuous - Rules and exercises for intermediate level

Friday, 04 September 2009
Example of the present continuous: They are playing snooker Example of the present continuous: They are playing snooker This image by rz0603 is licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license

An overview of the present continuous tense explains what rules you need to follow when using this tense, with examples and exercises to help you learn. This online lesson in English grammar is designed for intermediate level students.

Form of the present continuous

The present continuous is used when talking about an action that is happening at the moment of speaking and the action is not finished yet.

Present continuous: positive and negative



am not








Present continuous: question

What am I doing?
is he/she/it
are you/we/they

Present continuous: short answer

Are you drinking lemonade?

Yes, I am

No, I am not

Is she drinking lemonade?

Yes, she is

No, she isn't

Present continuous: Be careful!

1. All continuous verbs forms are composed of the auxiliary verb 'be' plus the gerund (-ing) of the main verb.
2. We use the continuous only for verbs which describe actions.
3. Note that for questions is not necessary to use 'do' because there is already an auxiliary verb 'be'.

Present continuous: how to spell verb+-ing

1. Most verbs add -ing to the base form of the verb.

e.g. drinking, shouting, going, loving

2. Verbs that end in one -e lose the -e.

e.g. coming, losing, realizing, supposing

3. Verbs that end in -ee don't drop an -e.

e.g. seeing, fleeing

N.B. lie becomes lying

4. Verbs of one syllable, with one vowel and one consonant, double the consonant.

e.g. getting, running, forgetting, stopping

N.B. if the final consonant is -y or -w, it is not doubled.

e.g. playing, showing

Uses of the present continuous

The present continuous has three main uses.

1. An action happening now
  • Pat is speaking to Richard.
  • He is playing snooker.
  • They are eating breakfast.
  • Sssshh! I'm thinking.
2. A temporary action
  • I'm living with a friend until my house is repaired.
  • My daughter is learning the piano.
3. An action happening around now
  • My father is reading a good book at the moment called Nineteen Eighty-Four.
  • Is Mary working this week? No she is off ill.
  • I'm thinking of going to Wales for my holiday.


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Last modified on Sunday, 05 February 2017 22:10

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