Hi, I'm Rebecca, and welcome to this class on the present continuous tense, which is
also called the present progressive tense. Now, this class is part of the engVid series
on English verb tenses. So, the present continuous tense is a basic tense. It's usually one of
the first tenses that you start to learn when you start studying English. However, it doesn't
exist in every language, and it might not exist in your language. So, it's possible
to make mistakes very easily and it's a basic tense, so we really don't want to make those
kind of mistakes. So, just stay with me. We're going to go through it step by step. I'll
show you exactly how to use it, we'll do lots of practice together, and you will understand
and be able to use it. So, are you ready? Let's start.
So, there are two basic tenses, first, to start to talk about the present. They are
the present simple and the present continuous, okay? We know it has two names, I'm just going
to use one name. So, what's the difference? Let's look at some examples in each of these
tenses. So, in the present simple, I would say "I work". In the present continuous, I
would say "I am working". So, what is the difference between these two? "I am working"
talks about something that's happening right now. For example, I am teaching. You are watching.
You are listening. Or, it can also talk about something temporary, like you're watching
this lesson this moment, but also for a short time. Short is a general idea, okay? So, it
could be something that's happening now, or something temporary.
However, we use "I work" in present simple to talk about things that are true in general.
I work in this company, but I'm working now. Or, I work in this company, but I'm not working
now. I'm having lunch. See the difference, okay? We also use present simple to talk about
things that are more permanent, like your job, right? You don't change your job usually
every day. It's more or less permanent; where you work, where you live. This is more permanent
and general, present simple, and this is more temporary and now. So, that's the basic overview
and the basic idea. And, how do we actually form this tense? We form it by using the subject
like I, you, we, they, he, she, it, plus the verb "to be", plus the verb, plus -ing. Let's
look at an example: "I am working". So, we have the subject and the verb "to be" and
each form of the verb "to be". I am working, You are working, We are working, They are
working, He is working, She is working, It's working, okay? Like the computer, the air
conditioner, whatever, okay? So, that's the basic overview of this tense.
Now, let's look at when we use the present continuous tense. So, as we saw earlier, we
can definitely use it to talk about something that's happening right now. For example, "The
baby is sleeping", don't make noise, okay? Or for example, "Oh, it's raining outside",
alright? So those are examples of something happening right now. We can also use this
tense to talk about something that's happening around now. For example, "He is writing a
book". So, he might not be writing it this minute, but he's writing it around now. We
don't know how long it'll take, but it's happening around this time. So, we can use it in that
context. For example, we could also say "He's working on a project". Maybe the project is
going to take one week and maybe it'll take one year, or ten years, we don't know, but
it's happening around now, okay?
Next, we can also use it to talk about something temporary. Not something that happens all
the time, but something temporary. For example, that book, right? We don't know, maybe it's
going to take him three years to write the book, but in his mind, it's not something
that's going to last forever. It's something temporary, okay? So, this is more about how
you look at what is happening. Or, this example, something temporary, "We are staying at hotel".
We live in our home, that's permanent, but right now, while we're in this city, while
we're travelling, we are staying at a hotel. That's something temporary. Okay?
Next, we can also use it to talk about a trend. A trend is something that's changing, okay?
Something that's developing. For example, "The prices of homes are increasing". Let's
say the prices were here, and now the prices are going up, so we can say the prices are
increasing. Some sort of changes that are happening. And we can also talk about a trend
in terms of something that's popular. Often, we talk about things - fashion trends, for
example, right? People are wearing a certain color. People are wearing bright colors this
summer, or people are wearing certain kinds of shoes. So, we can talk about trends using
this present continuous tense, alright?
So, those are the basic ways in which we use this tense, but I just want to let you know
that there are also two slightly more advanced ways in which we can use this tense. So, let's
look at what they are. The first one is to talk about some kind of repeated action, but
it's usually something negative. So, we're using it to kind of - when we want to complain
about something. For example, if you say, "They're always making noise", that's a negative
remark, right? So, we can use "always" in this context with the present continuous tense.
Usually, we use words like always, never, sometimes, frequently, and so on, to talk
about present simple. Something that's true in general. For example, "They always help
us", or just to talk about facts. But when you're talking about something negative, then
very often we can use this present continuous tense, but that's a slightly more advanced
way to use it, so don't worry about it too much, but you might hear people using it that
And, another point, I know that I said this is called the present continuous, and it talks
about the present, not the past, not the future, the present, however, sometimes we can actually
use it to talk about the future, but only in a special way. So, let's look at what that
is. If I say, "She's flying to Mexico next week.", now, if I didn't say "next week",
if I only said, "She's flying to Mexico", what does it mean? It's happening right now.
So, when I want to use this tense to talk about the future, I have to say something
like this. I have to say next week, tomorrow, next summer, next year, I have to give it
some kind of time in the future and then you can use present continuous for the future
in a slightly more advanced way, okay? So, those are the basic ways in which we use this
Now, let's look at when not to use the present continuous tense. So, first of all, everything
here, all these examples, these are all wrong, okay? And we're going to understand why. So,
we cannot use the present continuous tense to talk about any permanent actions or activities.
For example, for most people, where they live, where they work, these are more or less permanent.
They don't change every day. They're not temporary, right? So, if I live in Canada all the time,
then it would be wrong to say, "I am living in Canada". That would only be okay if it
was something temporary. Similarly, if I work at ABC company, and that's my permanent job,
it would be wrong to say, "I am working at ABC Company". I would need to say, "I work
at ABC Company". That would be a difference tense, the present simple tense. And similarly
here, if I live in Canada, I need to say "I live in Canada" and not "I am living", because
that would be temporary. So, that's the most common kind of mistake that people make, so
be really careful of that.
Similarly, we have stative verbs. This is another area that you have to be really careful
about. Why? Because in English, there are two kinds of verbs: action verbs and what
are called stative verbs. So, action verbs are your normal verbs that you know most of
the time like work, run, play, jump, okay? And stative verbs describe a state, or a condition.
It could be a mental state. It could be an emotional state, okay? And with this tense,
we cannot use stative verbs, and in fact, in any continuous tense in English, you cannot
use stative verbs. Let me give you some examples of stative verbs. For example, it would be
wrong to say, "I am understanding English". No. You cannot say that, because "understand"
is a stative verb, to do with your mind, so it's wrong to say that, okay? This is all
wrong, okay. It would be wrong to say, "We are liking this show". Liking is wrong because
"like" is a stative verb. So, we would need to say, "We like this show". "I understand
English", okay? Similarly, here, when you talk about verbs that refer to what you own,
what you possess, what you have, we cannot use those verbs in the stative form with this
tense. So, it would be wrong to say, "They are having a car". You would need to say,
"They have a car". Similarly, again, there's a long list of stative verbs, but the verb
"need" and the verb "want" are very common verbs which are usually stative verbs and
therefore you can't use them in this tense. So, it would be wrong to say, "Are you needing
help?". You would need to say, "Do you need help?", okay? So, whether you have learned
the present simple or not, don't worry right now, just understand that with the present
continuous, you cannot use stative verbs, so everything here is wrong.
Now, let's look at how we form the present continuous tense. Let's start by looking at
a sample sentence. "I am working". So, we saw that there are three parts: I, which is
the subject, am, in this case, which is a form of the verb "to be", then we have the
verb "work", right, and then we have "-ing", alright? So, in order to use this tense correctly,
you need to know two things: you need to be sure that you know the verb "to be" perfectly,
and then you need to know how to add the verb + ing and any changes you need to make in
spelling. So, what I've done is I've divided this lesson. First; into just looking into
the verb "to be" to make sure that you're using it correctly, because if you have mistakes
in the verb "to be", this central part, then you will make mistakes in this tense. But
if you've got it right, then you'll be absolutely fine. So, let's just take a minute to review
the verb "to be", alright? And then we'll move on to the next part.
So, in a positive sentence, it would be I am. You are. We are. They are. He is. She
is. It is. Now, when we say the verb "to be", the verb "to be" is one of the most common
verbs, but it is used in two ways. One is by itself. For example, I can say "I am a
teacher.", or we can also use the verb "to be" as a helping verb, as it's being used
in this tense. Then, I could say "I am teaching". Now, the verb "to be" became a helping verb,
but one way or the other, whether I'm using the verb "to be" by itself or I'm using it
in this context, then I still need to know exactly how to use the verb "to be". So now,
let's look at the negative. I am not. You are not. We are not. They are not. What do
you notice? We're just adding "not", right? Let's do it a little bit more. He is not.
She is not. It is not. Okay? Right now, don't worry about this last part. We're going to
add that soon, okay? Let's just get this part right, the verb "to be", alright?
Next, let's look at when we have the verb "to be" in a question or in our tense. So,
what do we do? Instead of saying "I am", we say "Am I?". If you had the verb after that,
you'd say, "Am I working?" and so on, but we'll look at that in a minute. Right now,
just master this part. It's a critical part of understanding and using this tense correctly.
Are you? Are we? Are they? Right? The same at the bottom here: Is he? Is she? Is it?
Alright? So, make sure that you can use the verb "to be" so that you can use the present
continuous tense correctly.
Now, let's look at how we form the full present continuous tense. You already know the verb
"to be", now we'll say a positive sentence, a negative sentence, and a question. So you
can repeat after me, it will be very good practice to also hear the correct form. I
am working. You are working. We are working. They are working. He is working. She is working.
It is working. Okay, got that? Good. For the negative, it's very easy, you just add "not"
before the verb, plus the -ing, so "not working", right? You are not working. He is not working.
They are not working. Like that, okay? It's very simple, just take this and add "not working".
Now, for the question, we have to reverse the order. So, instead of saying "I am", we
say "Am I?", right? Just like with the verb "to be", same thing, that's why I told you
the verb "to be" is so important, it's part of this tense. So, repeat after me, the questions:
Am I working today? Are you working? Are we working? Are they working? Is he working?
Is she working? Is it working? So, that's your basic question form. Now remember, you
can always add a question word before that. For example, you could say "When are you working?".
Where are you working? How long are you working? But what's important - what's important if
you do that is to keep this same order. Keep your question order. Don't turn it back into
a sentence. Just add the question word, like when, or how long, or why, or something like
that, and keep this structure. When are you working? Where are you working? Why are you
working? And so on, okay? And that's how you form the present continuous tense.
Now, let's look at how we use contractions in the present continuous tense. So, in English,
sometimes, instead of saying, for example, "I am learning", we shorten it or contract
it and say, "I'm learning". So, why do we do that? Usually, it's faster, it's easier,
and we use it a lot in informal conversation and also in informal writing. We do not usually
use contractions like these in formal business writing or in academic writing, but we use
them a lot on an everyday basis. So, let's see how to spell them and how to pronounce
So, I am becomes I'm. What happened here? We took away the A and put an apostrophe where
we took away the letter and we joined those two words. I'm. You are becomes you're. We
are becomes we're. They are becomes they're. He is becomes he's. She is -- she's. And it
is -- it's. Okay? Alright, so let's say a sentence, a really short sentence, with these
contractions, so you can learn how to say them easily and naturally. I'm learning. You're
learning. We're learning. They're learning. He's learning. She's learning. It's learning.
Now, we can do the same thing when it's negative. So, instead of saying "I am not", we can shorten
it in one way only, we can say "I'm not". So basically, we just took the "I'm" and added
"not", alright? So, we just got rid of this and then we joined these two, okay? Sorry,
we didn't join them, but we used them, one after the other, okay? I'm not. So, let's
say a sentence: I'm not watching. Are you watching TV? No, you can put it off, I'm not
watching, okay? Next: You are not becomes what? There are two possibilities here. First,
let's just add "not". So, "you are not" can become you're not, we're not, they're not.
Or, "You are not" can be contracted in a different way. Here, we're just going to take away the
O here and put an apostrophe and combine these two. What we did here is we took this one
and we got rid of this letter and combined this one. So, let's look at it for a second.
"You are not here" became "You're not". We contracted these two words. "You are not here",
we got rid of the o and we joined these two words: are not. So, the other possibility
is "You aren't". Say it after me: You aren't watching. We aren't watching. They aren't
watching. Okay? Very good. The same here - "He is not" can become "He's not", right? We got
rid of this one. She's not, It's not. Or, we can get rid of the o here and join this
and we can say "He isn't", She isn't watching. It isn't watching. So that's how we spell
and pronounce the contractions.
Now, let's look at some spelling changes we need to make to the verb when we're using
the present continuous tense. So, with all of the verbs, you need to add "-ing". And
to most of the verbs, that's all you need to do. You just need to add "ing". For example,
eat becomes eating. Walk - walking, right? All we did was add that "ing", but with some
verbs you need to make a few small other changes. For verbs ending in E, we need to drop the
E and then add "ing". For example, use becomes using, so we dropped or cancelled this E and
added ing. Take becomes taking. Again, we dropped or cancelled the e, alright? Good.
For verbs ending in "ie", we need to drop the ie and add y and then add the ing. For
example, lie, right, l-i-e, cancel ie, add y, then ing. Lying. Tie becomes tying, okay?
Now, for some verbs, ending in a C-V-C pattern, we have to double the last letter. What does
that C-V-C? C stands for consonant, V for vowel, and C again for consonant. A vowel
in English is A,E,I,O or U and a consonant is any other letter. So, what you do is look
at the verb, alright, you look at the verb from the end, it will be easier, and if it
follows that pattern, right, C, a p is a consonant, an a is a vowel, and then the l is a consonant,
so if it follows that pattern, C-V-C, then double that last letter. Now, there are some
special circumstances, it doesn't always apply, but it often applies. There are patterns in
English spelling and sometimes there are exceptions. So, in this case, clap becomes clapping. Sit
becomes sitting. Okay? And those are the major spelling changes you need to make.
Now, let's look at how to give short answers in the present continuous tense. So, in English,
if someone asks you a question and your basic answer is "Yes" or "No", we don't usually
just say "Yes" or "No". We usually say a little bit more than that. But, at the same time,
we don't have to repeat everything they asked us in the question in our answer. So, what
we do is something like this. If someone says, "Is he working late?" you could simply say
"Yes, he is", or "No, he isn't." And how do you know what to say here? You just take it
from here, right? So, is he? Yes, he is. Or, no, he isn't. Alright, so, what's important
to notice is that in the positive answer, you cannot use any contraction. You cannot
shorten it and say "Yes, he's". No, that's wrong. But in the negative, you can definitely
use the contraction. You can say "No, he is not", it's not wrong, but usually we'll just
use the contraction. The same thing here: "Are they going to the meeting?" So, we could
say what? Yes, they are, or no, they aren't, okay? So, you're basically taking your answer
clues from the question itself. And again, no contraction possible in the positive answer.
Here's another one. "Are you studying?" So here, it's going to be a little bit different.
Why? Because they're asking, "Are you" and they're - you have to answer with "I", right?
So here, you cannot use it, but you will simply say "Yes I am" or "No, I'm not". Got it? You
can't take it from there, but you can still just give a short answer. You don't have to
say "Yes, I am studying", "No, I am not studying", just say "Yes, I am", "No, I'm not". In fact,
it's a good thing to just know this phrase, alright? Yes, I am. No, I'm not. So, for example,
if I ask you "Are you learning the present continuous tense?" "Yes, I am." "Are you making
progress in your English?" "Yes, I am". "Are you feeling happy?" I hope you're saying "Yes,
Now, let's practice what you've been learning. So, we have some positive sentences we're
going to work with, some negative ones, and some questions. So, first, we'll take a sentence
which is in present simple and we're going to change it to present continuous, okay?
Number 1 -- "I go" becomes what? "I am going." Or "I'm going." Alright? You can also contract
it or shorten it. "We wait". Let's use the contracted form and turn it into the present
continuous form. "We wait" becomes what? "We're waiting", right? We're waiting. We are waiting.
We're waiting. Good. "They play" - again, let's use the contraction just so you can
practice the spelling, also where to put that apostrophe and so on and pay attention to
it. "They play." becomes "They're playing.", okay? Very nice. Alright.
Now, we have a sentence that's already in present continuous. What we want to do is
to change it to the negative form in present continuous. "She's calling." How can we make
that negative? There are two ways. She's calling - make it negative - She's not calling, this
is one way, and the other way - She isn't calling, right? Those were the two ways that
we learned. She's not calling. She isn't calling. Alright? Very good. "We're cooking". Make
it negative. First, the easy way, you can always just use the easy way too, if you're
unsure - We're not cooking. I call this one the easy way, because you just need to add
"not" and it's 100% right. It's not like that one is better than this one, no, everything
is equally correct. We're not cooking, or what's the other way though? We aren't cooking.
Okay? So again, pay attention to the spelling there. Next, number 6 - "I'm reading". Make
it negative. What will it become? I'm not reading, and in this case, that's the only
form that we can make it negative. Alright.
Now, the questions. So, right now, it's just a sentence. Let's see how we can make it into
a question. "They are buying a new car." Make it a question, it's really easy. Got it? Yes,
just move these around. Are they buying a new car? And of course, the first word will
be capitalized, and the second word will not. "She is doing her homework." Make it a question,
what is it? The same thing. Is she doing her homework? Good. And if you're writing it,
again, it would be capital for the first letter and then not capital after that. "We are leaving
at 8:00." Make it a question - same thing. Are we leaving at 8:00? And of course, at
the end of each of these, we would have a question mark if you're writing it down. So,
how did you do? Hope everything is going well, and I'm sure it is. Let's look at a little
Now, let's look at some common mistakes that are made with the present continuous tense,
and you can help me correct them. The first kind of mistake - sometimes the verb "to be"
is missing. For example, "My brother watching the news". So, what did that student need
to say? What did that person want to say? What's missing? The verb "to be"? So, we have
to say "My brother is watching the news", okay? Remember, we have the subject, the verb
"to be", and then the verb + ing. Sometimes, the same thing can happen but in a negative
sentence. For example, this person wrote "John not helping". How can we correct that? "John"
- the easy way to correct it is to say "John is not helping" or you can always contract
it and say "John's not helping". Okay? Or we can say "John isn't helping". Alright.
Sometimes, the verb "to be" is missing in a question. Instead of saying "She going?",
what's wrong there? What should we be saying? We should be saying "Is she going?". Is she
going, right? Again, we needed that verb "to be". We can't have this tense without the
verb "to be", right? That's why we looked at it so many times, so make sure that you
don't forget it. Next, sometimes the verb "to be" is there, but it's incorrect. There's
an incorrect form of it being used. For example, this person wrote "Bob and Maria is driving
home". That's not right. They have the verb "to be" but it's not in the right form because
"Bob and Maria" is like "they", right, so it should be "Bob and Maria are driving home",
okay? And here, this person wrote "He ain't studying." Now, "ain't" is actually slang.
You might hear it a lot in songs or in music or in movies, okay, but in academic English,
in correct grammar, it's not acceptable, so if you're doing an exam or if you're writing
a paper for university or if you're trying to impress a client, it's probably not such
a good idea to use it. Instead of that, you should use the correct version which is what?
"He isn't studying", okay? That doesn't mean you can never use slang, you can certainly
use slang with your friends or casually whenever you want to, but just be aware - what is slang,
and what is not slang.
Next, sometimes the verb, the main verb, not the verb "to be", but the verb in the sentence
is used incorrectly. For example, this person wrote "She is do her homework". How can we
fix that? "She is doing her homework". And this one wrote "The game is start now". It
should be "The game is starting now", okay? There we go, good. See, I'm sure you can find
these now yourself, right? And that's the way. Now you've learned, you know the rules,
you're able to apply the words, whether you're reading something or whether you're looking
at something or whether you're writing it yourself or whether you're speaking, it will
come out right.
Next, sometimes mistakes are made in spelling. For example, there are several mistakes here.
"She's lieing" but this should be what? Not lie, lying. This was one of those verbs also,
"She's siting", but it's consonant, vowel, consonant, so we need to double the last letter,
sitting, and here, "writeing", ends with an E, the verb "write", so we need to get rid
of that E, okay? So be careful of those spelling changes that we talked about. Also, here's
a spelling mistake. This person wrote "Were going to the mall." That's what they wanted
to say, but what's missing here? The apostrophe, good. So, that goes right here, okay? Instead
of "We are" it became "We're". "We're going to the mall". Okay?
Next, sometimes people forget, and they use a stative verb anyway in this tense and they
might say something like "I am needing some water.", but can we say that? No. In correct
English, you cannot say that, because "need" is one of those stated verbs. So, you'd need
to change that and just say "I need some water". The same here, "I'm wanting to visit Hawaii".
No, "want" is another stated verb, so we just say, "I want to visit Hawaii", okay? And last
of all, remember what I told you, what we talked about earlier, that we don't and should
not be using this tense to talk about permanent situations. So, for example, somebody asked
this person "What does your company do?" and he said, "We are manufacturing cars." But
that's not right, because it's not something they do just temporarily, it takes a lot of
work and organization to do this work, so it should be not "We are manufacturing cars.",
but just "We manufacture cars.", okay? So, in that case, using the present continuous
tense would be incorrect. You just needed there - the other present simple tense. So,
these are some of the common mistakes, and I think you see that once you know the rules,
the rules actually make it easier for you. They free you to speak and communicate more
So, we've covered a lot in this class. Let's review now, just one last time. You know this
tense when you can make, what? A positive sentence, a negative sentence, and a question.
For example: "David is making coffee." A positive. "David is not making coffee." A negative sentence.
"Is David making coffee?" A question, or to add question words to that, for example, "When
is David making coffee?" "Why is David making coffee?", and so on. Okay? So, what can you
do from here? To practice this tense, try to think of examples in your own life. Talk
to yourself as you're going through your day. What are you doing at that moment? I'm waking
up, I'm brushing my teeth, I'm taking a shower, I'm having breakfast, there are so many things
that you can say as you're walking around. You don't have to say them aloud, you can
also say them in your mind, okay, but try to use the tense that you've learned so well
right now, okay?
Now, when you feel that you know this tense, then you can go on to the next lesson in this
series, because this is a series of the verb tenses. Next, after that, you can also practice
a little bit more, if you wish, by taking a quiz on www.engvid.com . Thanks very much
for watching, and all the best with your English.