Present continuous

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


As you watch the video, look at the examples of the present continuous. They are in red in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, the present continuous.


Oliver: Hey, Alfie, what are you doing?
Alfie:  I’m studying for tomorrow’s exam. You? 
Oliver: Yeah, me too. Well ... I’m just uploading some photos to Facebook and I’m sending a message to Billie ... oh, and I’m downloading the new Arcade Fire album ... oh yeah, and I’m having a coffee too. It’s tiring all this studying! Oh, and at eight, I’m meeting Lucas, just for a quick coffee. It’s important to take regular breaks you know!
Alfie: You’re not really studying at all, are you? Come on, mate, if you don’t pass the exam, you’ll have to take it again after the holidays.
Oliver: You sound like my mum, Alfie! Talk of the devil. She’s calling me. I’ll phone you later, OK?
Alfie: Sure.

Oliver: Hi, Mum.
Sophie: Hello, love, what are you doing?
Oliver: I’m studying, Mum. I’ve got a big exam tomorrow. What about you?
Sophie: Oh Ollie, I just had to phone you. I’m riding a camel at the pyramids!
Oliver: Cool.
Sophie: I’m with a tour group. We’re having a great time! We’re all riding camels and the sun’s shining. Oh, it’s fantastic, Ollie!
Oliver: Lucky you!
Sophie: So, are you working hard for the exam?
Oliver: I’m trying to, Mum!
Sophie: What’s Daisy doing now? Is she at home?
Oliver: No, she’s at tennis practice.
Sophie: Of course she is. OK, I’ve got to go. They’re waiting for me to get off the phone! Bye, love.
Oliver: Bye, Mum.

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!



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

Average: 3 (17 votes)
Personal online tutoring
EnglishScore Tutors is the British Council’s one-to-one tutoring platform for 13- to 17-year-olds.


Submitted by Arturovilla on Tue, 11/01/2022 - 21:47

I like the multiple exercise

Submitted by cherry00 on Sat, 07/23/2022 - 16:42

Yes, I'm good at this. At the moment I'm talking to my best friend while I practise my English.
Profile picture for user Capixt

Submitted by Capixt on Mon, 06/20/2022 - 17:55

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
Profile picture for user JackBellatrix

Submitted by JackBellatrix on Tue, 05/10/2022 - 12:01

I'm not good at doing this and now im studying english

Submitted by Sol04 on Tue, 05/10/2022 - 11:51

Yes, I am. At the moment I'm studying English, copying the exercise in my notebook and listening to the teacher. And you?
Profile picture for user Diva69

Submitted by Diva69 on Tue, 05/10/2022 - 11:49

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

Submitted by Rhylan on Tue, 04/26/2022 - 18:37

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.

Submitted by NoSeJuju on Mon, 03/21/2022 - 17:19

No, I need to concentrate in one thing. Now I'm listening music.

Submitted by Celest3 on Mon, 03/21/2022 - 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.

Submitted by v01shebnik on Sat, 01/22/2022 - 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))

Submitted by student53 on Mon, 01/03/2022 - 19:27

Yes, I playing the game,lisning music and also eating candy

Submitted by bferna5 on Wed, 10/13/2021 - 09:35

I am trying to log into the site, I am teaching my students and I am giving them instructions.
Profile picture for user JoModerator

Submitted by JoModerator on Thu, 10/14/2021 - 08:38

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)

In reply to by bferna5

Submitted by Ema_tavo on Tue, 08/31/2021 - 12:55

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.
Profile picture for user FlowerQueen

Submitted by FlowerQueen on Tue, 06/29/2021 - 18:36

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

Submitted by liz15 on Wed, 06/23/2021 - 20:25

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

Submitted by Arivelde on Thu, 03/18/2021 - 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.
Profile picture for user Cfvdv

Submitted by Cfvdv on Fri, 03/12/2021 - 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.
Profile picture for user Kostantinus

Submitted by Kostantinus on Sat, 01/23/2021 - 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!

Submitted by Perla on Tue, 09/29/2020 - 14:52

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.

Submitted by EliFran on Mon, 09/28/2020 - 18:32

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

Submitted by Celeste_Baggia on Mon, 09/28/2020 - 16:09

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.

Submitted by am357 on Mon, 09/28/2020 - 15:46

I can do a lot of things at the same time, for example watching the tv and doing my homework.
Profile picture for user Chiara19

Submitted by Chiara19 on Mon, 09/28/2020 - 15:08

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!!

Submitted by Elisa1a on Mon, 09/28/2020 - 14:13

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!

Submitted by Marghe on Mon, 09/28/2020 - 14:11

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.

Submitted by 1agiovanni on Mon, 09/28/2020 - 13:43

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.

Submitted by denisab on Mon, 09/28/2020 - 13:40

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.

Submitted by aurora1a on Mon, 09/28/2020 - 12:44

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.

Submitted by Studente149 on Sun, 09/27/2020 - 13:02

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.

Submitted by MaryProdayvoda on Thu, 09/10/2020 - 02:27

I'm not good at doing lot of things at the same time! Right now I'm listening to Metallica.

Submitted by Luna on Mon, 08/17/2020 - 09:12

Yeah! Right now l'm listening to music or playing computer
Profile picture for user zagrybast

Submitted by zagrybast on Fri, 08/07/2020 - 08:58

Yeah! I’m a master in doing-lots-of-things-at-the-same-time. Right now I’m listening to music, playing to computer game and watching tv lol
Profile picture for user Giovannichoi

Submitted by Giovannichoi on Tue, 06/16/2020 - 05:08

Yes. I'm learning English, listening to FROZEN O.S.Ts, reading Percy Jackson and doing my school homework at the same time.

Submitted by TR790 on Fri, 05/22/2020 - 13:49

Yeah! I am good at doing lots of things at the same time. At the moment, I am studying English grammar, listening to music and watching news.

Submitted by BttChiara on Tue, 05/19/2020 - 17:02

Yes, I am. At the moment I'm studying English and I'm talking with my friend at the same time!

Submitted by Founnerzin on Sat, 04/18/2020 - 03:54

I am currently doing the English activity and listening to music

Submitted by sofka on Sat, 04/11/2020 - 20:31

no, I need to do one thing, otherwise everything may go wrong

Submitted by MatildePace on Thu, 03/26/2020 - 14:55

I'm good at doing lots of things at the same time. Now I'm doing English and listening to music. I focus better when I listen to music.

Submitted by Desy on Wed, 03/25/2020 - 11:56

Oh no, I'm not good at doing lots of things at the same time! But when I do something I do it good. Now I'm doing only English.

Submitted by gattifederica on Wed, 03/25/2020 - 10:49

Yes, I am. In fact, in this moment, while I’m studying, I’m listening to music. Now I’m doing the volleyball exercises because I play volleyball and my teacher gave me them to do at home. I’m making video calls with my teacher and my team because in this period nobody can leave the house. I‘m doing the next video call on Monday.

Submitted by Ely on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 09:54

i'm reading my favorite english book

Submitted by Androx on Fri, 03/20/2020 - 16:19

teacher... i finish that

Submitted by Landiroller on Fri, 08/30/2019 - 05:49

Who likes my name?

Submitted by AnnAmulet1000 on Tue, 04/16/2019 - 09:38

I am not good at doing a lot of things at the same time. Now I am studying English and that's it.

Submitted by KasiaAmulet1000 on Tue, 04/16/2019 - 09:37

I am sometimes doing a lot of things at the same time. Now I studying English and I am thinking about food.
Profile picture for user Youjiro

Submitted by Youjiro on Thu, 01/31/2019 - 13:50

I'm not good doing lot of things at the same time .I feel nervous at that time.I focus on what I'm doing. I'm listing podcast on the bed .I'm studying English without music .I'm doing homework without the internet.

Submitted by naturegirl on Sat, 10/13/2018 - 17:38

I'm revising present continous for next English lesson and I'm talking to my father who is helping me.

Submitted by GiovanaSarai on Wed, 01/31/2018 - 21:57

We must to read carefull because we could be wrong for not do it.
English courses near you