flesl.net grammar glossary::

present continuous

• The present continuous—which is also called the “present progressive”— is one of the eight basic English verb tenses. It is formed with the simple present of be (‘is’ or ‘are’) as an auxiliary followed by the ing-form of the main verb. In other words:

present continuous: [present tense of “be”] + [ing-form]

• The most important use of the present continuous is to describe an event which is happening at the time of speaking or writing.

• for example: When Jane called, Jack told her, “Jill IS TAKING a shower.”

• for example: “Where’s Jill,” asked Jack. Tom replied, “She IS EATING lunch with Harry.”

• Like other continuous tenses, in its standard use, the present continuous indicates duration and is therefore used with durative verbs. When it is used with a punctual verb, its meaning changes and it indicates that an event is going to happen soon.

• for example: When Harry arrived, Jill told him, “I have to go back home for a few days. My grandmother is dying.”

• Many state verbs cannot normally be used in the present continuous, for example “be” and “have” (when it is used to indicate possession). Several other state verbs referring to mental states, emotions and attitudes cannot normally be put into the present continuous. For example:

• mental states: know, believe, think, realize, understand

• emotions & attitudes: agree, wish, want, like

• To indicate habitual but temporaryactivity during a current period of time

• for example: “At lunch, Harry told Jill, I’m writing a proposal for a job with Jones & Jones.” (Notice that Harry is not writing at the time of speaking.)

• In combination with a ‘to’ infinitive, to indicate a future event.

• for example: Tomorrow, Jill is going home.” (Basically equivalent to “Tomorrow Jill will go home.”)

• Alone, to indicate an almost certain future event

• for example: Two days later, Jill phoned Harry and said, “I’m coming back tomorrow.”