What Is the Continuing Aspect? (with Examples)
Continuing AspectThe continuing aspect (or progressive aspect as it's also called) is the aspect of a verb that expresses an ongoing action.
In other words, "continuing aspect" is the collective term for verbs (in the past tense, present tense, or future tense) in a continuing (or progressive) tense.
The "Continuing (or Progressive) Aspect" VerbsIn total, there are 12 tenses. The table below shows all four aspects and the three tenses in each aspect. The three "continuing (or progressive) aspect" tenses are highlighted in yellow.
|The "Simple Aspect" Tenses||Examples|
|The simple aspect is used to describe facts and habits.|
|Simple Present Tense|
|Simple Past Tense|
|Simple Future Tense|
|The "Continuing (or Progressive) Aspect" Tenses||Examples|
|The continuing aspect expresses ongoing actions.|
|Present Continuous Tense|
|Past Continuous Tense|
|Future Continuous Tense|
|The "Perfect (or Complete) Aspect" Tenses||Examples|
|The perfect aspect expresses completed actions.|
|Present Perfect Tense|
|Past Perfect Tense|
|Future Perfect Tense|
|The "Perfect Continuous Aspect" Tenses||Examples|
|The perfect continuous aspect expresses the end of an ongoing action.|
|Present Perfect Continuous Tense|
|Past Perfect Continuous Tense|
|Future Perfect Continuous Tense|
Slider Showing Verbs in the Continuing AspectThe following slider shows all 12 tenses. The continuing tenses (i.e., those in the continuing aspect) are highlighted with a yellow background.
Examples of Verbs in the Continuing AspectHere are some examples of verbs in the continuing aspect. Verbs in the continuing aspect are recognizable by the present participle (i.e., the word that ends "-ing").
In the Past Tense
- I was going. (past continuing tense)
- They were eating. (past continuing tense)
- I am going. (present continuing tense)
- We are cleaning. (present continuing tense)
- I will be going. (future continuing tense)
- You will be acting. (future continuing tense)
Forming the Continuing (Progressive) AspectThe continuing aspect is formed using a form of the auxiliary verb "to be" and the present participle. For example:
Forming the Past Continuing Tense
"was" or "were"+
- They were eating.
"is" or "are"+
- He is eating.
- We are eating.
- He will be eating.
Verb Tenses Showing the Continuing AspectHere are the 12 tenses again. This time, the tenses are ordered under the headings past tense, present tense, and future tense. As before, the tenses in the continuing (or progressive) aspect are shaded in yellow.
|The 4 Past Tenses||Example|
|simple past tense||I went|
|past continuing tense||I was going|
|past perfect tense||I had gone|
|past perfect continuing tense||I had been going|
|The 4 Present Tenses||Example|
|simple present tense||I go|
|present continuing tense||I am going|
|present perfect tense||I have gone|
|present perfect continuing tense||I have been going|
|The 4 Future Tenses||Example|
|simple future tense||I will go|
|future continuing tense||I will be going|
|future perfect tense||I will have gone|
|future perfect continuing tense||I will have been going|
Verb Tense WidgetUse this widget to learn about the different tenses. How do you use this widget? Well, if there's a button, a drop-down menu, or a , then you can click it!
Why Should I Care about the Continuing Aspect?Native English speakers can use all twelve tenses without giving the grammar a second thought. However, if you're learning or teaching English, you must spend time learning the tenses because expressing when something occurs is a fundamental communication skill. Remember though that tenses do not just tell us whether something is a past, present, or future action. They also tell us whether the action is habitual, completed, or ongoing (called the aspects).
The trick to learning tenses is mastering the following:
- The verb "to be" in all its forms (am, is, are, was, were, will be)
- The verb "to have" in all its forms (has, have, had, will have)
- Present participles, i.e., the "ing" form of verbs (e.g., running, dancing, seeing)
- Past participles (e.g., ran, danced, seen)