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!


Language level: 


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


stephania1799's picture
stephania1799 8 July, 2015 - 04:15

Sometimes I can do two things at the same time but now I´m doing my homework, I´m listening to music and I´m looking for my little puppy because he needs to go pee right now

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nandosc9's picture
nandosc9 8 July, 2015 - 03:11

Sometimes I can do two things at same time like now, I'm doing my English's homework and I'm listening the Ilonka's songs in youtube (my favorite singer :3)

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mike95rob's picture
mike95rob 7 July, 2015 - 18:39

for me is good idea at doing lots of things at the same time and right now i´am doing my homeworks i'm listening to music i'm sending messages to my friends and i´m learning many words in English

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Angielu's picture
Angielu 6 July, 2015 - 21:24

No, i'm not good at doing lots of things at the same time, because i can't not concentrate on one particular thing. Right now i'm taking care of my 2 little cousins.

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SpencerHastings's picture
SpencerHastings 15 April, 2015 - 09:23

Well I'm eating an apple and some sponge cake, I'm listening and obviously I'm learing English

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cicek's picture
cicek 21 December, 2014 - 21:50

Now i'm sending a comment and i am listening music at the same time :) And mom is yelling to me "go to bed now" :) im going :D
Hey Turkey :))

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Prilia's picture
Prilia 8 November, 2014 - 06:28

i'm doing my homework, sending text to my friend and eating at the same time. sometimes i'm watching tv and dinner at the same time. i often do listening the music and studying at the same time.

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OLEG's picture
OLEG 12 October, 2014 - 12:04

I am good at eating and playing on my phone at the same time.
At the moment I am talking with my teacher.

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Taioor's picture
Taioor 15 August, 2014 - 12:03

I'm quite good at doing lots of things at once.For example, preparing tea for my mom, checking my mail box, going to kitchen to get something to eat while i study etc. At the moment , I'm only studying English.

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Nema's picture
Nema 7 February, 2014 - 12:42

no İ do not do anything at the same time.I am bad at doing a few thing at the same time.Because my mind work for that

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Nerminka's picture
Nerminka 7 February, 2014 - 11:14

I'm usually in such situations in fact, while I'm studing with my little sister I/m playing with my brother also, watch TV, if my fathers asks me todo something for ex, to bring tea I go for it also

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Nerminka's picture
Nerminka 5 February, 2014 - 19:39

it is not easy for me to do a few things at the same time, I can not consentrate especially when i do my homework

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AnaB's picture
AnaB 20 November, 2013 - 19:25

Well, when I'm playing basketball, I'm listening to music, and speaking to my friends. That's the only thing what I'm doing in the same time. :) Now I'm listening to music, answering this queston. :)

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JoEditor's picture
JoEditor 13 November, 2013 - 08:46

Hi kristina19,
Thanks for your comment. We're pleased you like the exercise. I'm sorry, but  I don't understand the second part of your comment. Can you explain what you are looking for and we will try to help you. 
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team) 

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