Present Continuous

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Study this example situation:

Sarah is in her car. She is on her way to work. She’s driving to work. (= She is driving …) This means: she is driving now, at the time of speaking. The action is not finished. am/is/are + -ing is the present continuous:

Iam(=I’m)driving
he/she/itis(=he’s etc.)working
we/you/theyare (=we’re etc.)doing etc

I am doing something = I started doing it and I haven’t finished; I’m in the middle of doing it.

  • Pleas don’t make so much noise. I’m trying to work. (not I try)
  • ‘Where’s Mark?’ ‘He’s having a shower.’ (not He has a shower)
  • Let’s go out now. It isn’t raining any more. (not It doesn’t rain)
  • How’s your new job? Are you enjoying it?
  • What’s all that noise? What’s going on? or What’s happening?

Sometimes the action is not happening at the time of speaking. For example:

Steve is talking to a friend on the phone. He says:
Steve says ‘I’m reading …’ but he is not reading the book at the time of speaking. He means that he has started reading the book, but has not finished it yet. He is in the middle of reading it.

Some more examples:

  • Kate wants to work in Italy, so she’s learning Italian.
  • (but perhaps she isn’t learning Italian at the time of speaking)
  • Some friends of mine are building their own house. They hope to finish it next summer.

You can use the present continuous with today / this week / this year etc. (periods around now):

  • a: You’re working hard today. (not You work hard today)
  • b: Yes, I have a lot to do.
  • The company I work for isn’t doing so well this year.

We use the present continuous when we talk about a change that has started to happen. We often use these verbs in this way:

getting, becomingchanging, improving
starting, beginningincreasing, rising, falling, growing
  • Is your English getting better? (not Does your English get better)
  • The population of the world is increasing very fast. (not increases)
  • At first I didn’t like my job, but I’m starting to enjoy it now. (not I start)

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