When to Use the Present Progressive Tense in English
The present progressive tense in English is formed by using forms of the verb "to be" (am, are, is) and a main verb.
If you are having difficulty determining when to use the present progressive tense versus the simple present tense, the following information will help.
The present progressive tense is used in the following situations: 1. When something is happening or not happening now Example I am reading a book right now. I am notreading a book right now.
2. When we do things that continue for a while. This can include actions we are in the process of doing, as well. Examples I am studying to be a doctor. Aren’t you working at the bookstore now?
3. When we discuss things that will occur in the near future Examples I am meeting my friends for a drink after work tonight. Are you going to the party on Friday night? Why aren’t you coming with us tomorrow afternoon?
4. When we talk about something that “always” or “constantly” happens Examples She is always talking on the telephone. Mary is always yelling at her kids. Why are you constantly talking about your sister like that?
There are some verbs that are not usually used in the progressive tense Verbs that do not usually use the progressive tense involve actions that you can’t see someone doing. We sometimes refer to these verbs as “non-continuous” verbs
1. Abstract verbs: Some common abstract verbs include the following: to be, to want, to need, to care, to contain, to owe, etc. Examples Incorrect: I am wanting a dog. Correct: I want a dog.
Incorrect: John is needing a bath. Correct: John needs a bath.
Incorrect: I am caring about you. Correct: I care about you.
Incorrect: My sister is owing me money. Correct: My sister owes me money.
2. Possession verbs: Some common verbs that indicate possession include the following: to own, to belong, to possess Incorrect: I am owning this house. Correct: I own this house.
Incorrect: This coat is belonging to me. Correct: This coat belongs to me.
Incorrect: My father is possessing a gun. Correct: My father possesses a gun.
3. Emotion verbs: Some common verbs that express emotion include the following: to love, to like, to fear, to hate, to dislike, to mind, etc Examples Incorrect: She is loving her mother. Correct: She loves her mother.
Incorrect: I am liking that car! Correct: I like that car!
Incorrect: My son is hating his teacher. Correct: My son hates his teacher.
Incorrect: Mary is disliking her drink. Correct: Mary dislikes her drink.
Try the following exercises. In each of the sentences below, you will need to determine if the present progressive is used correctly. If it is correct, do nothing. If it is incorrect, correct the errors. 1. I am going to the library this afternoon. 2. You are knowing a lot about cars. 3. My mother is walking toward me. 4. In the afternoon, I am taking a nap. 5. Is Amy brushing her hair? 6. How are you knowing that? 7. My neighbor is owning a new boat. 8. We are not seeing your house. 9. Jack is having a good day. 10. My car is having a flat tire.