Sophie is working in Cairo this week. Oliver, Alfie and Daisy are working hard for their end-of-year exams.

We use the present continuous (am/is/are + -ing) to talk about temporary things which have begun but haven't finished. They are often happening now, at this moment.

Here are some examples of things happening now.

I'm just uploading some photos to Facebook and I'm sending a message to Billie.
We're all riding camels and the sun's shining.
They're waiting for me to get off the phone!

I'm not sure what 'temporary' means. Can I say 'I'm learning to drive', even if I'm not having a driving lesson right now?

Yes, absolutely! You might not be having a driving lesson right at this moment, but it is temporary, so that's correct. We use the present continuous for longer situations like this too.

OK, I see what you mean. So that’s for things happening now, or round about now. What about the future? Can I use the present continuous for the future?

Yes, I’m glad you asked me that. We use the present continuous for future arrangements with other people.

At eight I’m meeting Lucas, just for a quick coffee.

What about questions and negatives?

For questions you just change round the subject and the verb to be. So, You are > Are you, then add the –ing form. Sometimes you need a question word first.

Are you working hard for the exam?
What are you doing?
Is anybody sitting here?

For negatives you add not after the verb to be. Don't forget to use a contraction if you're speaking.

You're not really studying at all, are you? (or You aren't really studying…)
They aren't using the computer room at the moment.
This program isn't working.

That's fine, but I suppose there are some spelling rules for –ing forms?

Yes, you're right. If a verb ends in e, you take off the e and add –ing

have - having          ride - riding

If a verb ends in a vowel + a consonant, the consonant is usually doubled before you add –ing.

swim - swimming           run - running

But be careful with verbs with more than two syllables where the stress isn't on the last syllable. With those you don't double the consonant.

visit - visiting          open - opening     

OK, but what about two-syllable verbs where the stress is on the last syllable, like begin

If the stress is on the last syllable, you do double the final consonant.

begin - beginning       

Right, the present continuous seems quite easy to me. I'm understanding it perfectly!

Whoops! Sorry, you can't say 'I'm understanding it'.

Why not? I'm talking about something happening right now.

Yes, but there is a group of verbs which are called state verbs which we use for states (not actions) and we don't usually use these in the continuous form.

want - need - like - love - hate - prefer - believe - think - know - realise - understand - recognise - suppose - be - exist - appear - look - seem - belong - have (for possession) -  own - feel - smell - taste

So these are verbs for talking about emotions, thinking, existing, appearing, possession and the senses.

Yes, excellent.

But wait a minute. What about, 'I'm thinking of coming with you tomorrow.' Or, 'I'm thinking about my girlfriend.'

Yes, they are correct. But the meaning of think there is 'having thoughts in your mind' or 'considering'. It's not the same as 'having an opinion' about something.

I think that song's brilliant.   (opinion)
She's thinking about studying archaeology.  (considering / wondering about)

OK, so there are some exceptions. Like, 'I'm loving it.'

No, sorry, that's not an exception, that's wrong!

It can't be wrong!

Well, OK, maybe it's a new usage. English does change. But don't use it in exams!

 

Discussion

Are you good at doing lots of things at the same time? What are you doing now, apart from practising your English?

Comments

Capixt's picture
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Capixt 20 June, 2022 - 18:55

I´m not good doing lots of thing I disconnet very faste, right now I´m practicing my english and listening to music. Those are the only thing that I can do at the same time, study and linsten music, but the music have to be quite, like lo-fi

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Sol04's picture
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Sol04 10 May, 2022 - 12:51

Yes, I am. At the moment I'm studying English, copying the exercise in my notebook and listening to the teacher. And you?

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Diva69's picture
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Diva69 10 May, 2022 - 12:49

Yes, I'm really good at doing multiple things at the same time, at this very moment I am writing this comment during my English class

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Rhylan's picture
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Rhylan 26 April, 2022 - 19:37

I am not good at doing lots of things at the same time. I am studying right now for my exam and I'm improving my english language.

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Celest3's picture
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Celest3 21 March, 2022 - 14:53

I'm not good doing things at the same time but now I'm doing the activities at the same time we're watching an explanatory video.

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v01shebnik's picture
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v01shebnik 22 January, 2022 - 17:20

Yes of course. Now i'm studying English, playing with my cat and listening to music. But i need to focus on one thing))

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JoModerator's picture
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JoModerator 14 October, 2021 - 09:38

Dear bferna5,

Thanks for your comments on LearnEnglish Teens. This website is specially for teenagers aged 13-17 years old but it sounds like you are older than that. You are welcome to keep on using LearnEnglish Teens but if you are over 17, please do NOT post any more comments as we must keep this strictly for teenagers to interact with each other.

 

Best wishes,

Jo (Learn English Teens team)

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Ema_tavo's picture
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Ema_tavo 31 August, 2021 - 13:55

I can't do multiple things at once: I'm really bad at it. The best that I can do is listening music or eating while doing stuff.

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FlowerQueen's picture
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FlowerQueen 29 June, 2021 - 19:36

I am breathing, looking at my ipad, sitting on a chair, typing the right answer and talking with my mum.

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liz15's picture
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liz15 23 June, 2021 - 21:25

I think there are activities that you can do other things at the same time, for example listening miusic and doing exercise in the same time, or listening a podcast while you are watching the dishes, but there are other activiries that you can't do in the same time for example studying and watching TV or listening miusic, in this moment I am studying English and no more

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Arivelde's picture
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Arivelde 18 March, 2021 - 14:47

Yes, I am prety good at doing lots of things at the same time, but I don't realy like doing it, because sometimes if we do "lots of things at the same time" we normaly don't focus 100% in what we are doing. So I prefere doing one thing at a time. Right now I am just doing my english, although I'm also listening to my brothers' conversation involuntarily.

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Cfvdv's picture
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Cfvdv 12 March, 2021 - 21:25

Yes, I am quite good at doing things at the same time. Appart of practising my English, I´m chatting with my brothers, listening to music, and planning what I´ll do after British Council.

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Kostantinus's picture
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Kostantinus 23 January, 2021 - 11:01

No, I am not good at doing lots of things in the same time and I don't want to. I think it's better you are doing only one thing, but perfectly, than doing many things badly. Don't fritter away your concentration and be focused on one task. I wish you good luck!

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Perla's picture
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Perla 29 September, 2020 - 15:52

Yes, I'm good at doing lots of things at the same time. For example now i’m making a cake, listening to music and reading the recipe for the cake.

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EliFran's picture
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EliFran 28 September, 2020 - 19:32

I’m good al make things at the same time. Now i’m studing english, listening to music, and talk with mi brother.

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Celeste_Baggia's picture
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Celeste_Baggia 28 September, 2020 - 17:09

No, i’m not good at doing lots of things at the time. I prefer doing one thing at the time. Now i’m studying for school and going out with my friends.

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Chiara19's picture
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Chiara19 28 September, 2020 - 16:08

Yes, I am! For example when I read a book, I also do my homework at the same time; I make a cake, I sing and I watch TV, or I speak to the phone and I write a letter...
Now I'm studyng for tomorrow for a test!! Bye!!

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Elisa1a's picture
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Elisa1a 28 September, 2020 - 15:13

I'm good at doing lots of things at the same time.
Right now, for example, I'm studying English, I'm drinking a cup of tea, eating some biscuits, and listening to music.
It's very easy for me!

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Marghe's picture
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Marghe 28 September, 2020 - 15:11

I'm not very good at doing lot of things at the same time. Only a few times I read, I speak and listen to music at the same time. Now I'm watching the TV.

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1agiovanni's picture
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1agiovanni 28 September, 2020 - 14:43

I'm not good at doing a lot things at the same time but usually I listen to music when I walk. At the moment I'm studying English in my bedroom.

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denisab's picture
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denisab 28 September, 2020 - 14:40

Yes, I'm good at doing many things at the same time, but it depends of the type of things. I prefer doing one thing at the time.
Now, I am doing one thing: I am answering at this question.

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aurora1a's picture
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aurora1a 28 September, 2020 - 13:44

Yes, I can do lots of things at the same time. Now I am watching TV, doing my homework and I am helping my sister to do her homework.

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Studente149's picture
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Studente149 27 September, 2020 - 14:02

No, unfortunately I'm not good at doing many things at the same time. Sometimes when I read a book I eat a snak. But in general I do one thing at a time.
Now I'm listenig to music with my computer.

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