What Is the Present Progressive Tense? (with Examples)

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Present Progressive Tense

The present progressive tense is used for an ongoing action in the present. For example:
  • John is baking a cake.
  • They are painting the fence.
Even though it is a present tense, the present progressive tense can also be used to describe an activity that is going to happen in the future (especially for planned activities). For example:
  • We are moving to New Zealand in the summer.
  • The train is arriving in 2 minutes.

A Video Summary

Here is a short video summarizing the present progressive tense:

Infographic for the Present Progressive Tense

Here is an infographic explaining the present progressive tense:

present progressive tense

Examples of the Present Progressive Tense

  • Caroline is looking for the latest brochure.
  • Dan and Billy are fishing off the pier.
  • A lot of good arguments are spoiled by some fool who knows what he is talking about. (Playwright Miguel de Unamuno)
  • Middle age is when youare sitting at home on a Saturday night and the telephone rings and you hope it isn't for you. (Poet Ogden Nas)

Forming the Present Progressive Tense

The present progressive tense is formed like this:
"am," "is," or "are"
+
[present participle ("verb-ing")]


Choose "am," "is," or "are" based on the following table:
SubjectVerb "to be"Present Participle
Iam[verb] + "ing"
Youare
He / She / It (or singular noun)is
Weare
Youare
They (or plural noun)are

For example:
  • She is running.
  • I am talking.

Forming the Present Participle

The [verb] + "ing" part is known as a present participle. It is formed like this:

Add "ing" to most verbs:
  • play > playing
  • shout > shouting

For verbs that end "e", remove the "e" and add "ing":
  • prepare > preparing
  • ride > riding

For verbs that end "ie", change the "ie" to "y" and add "ing":
  • lie > lying
  • untie > untying

For verbs whose last syllable is written [consonant-vowel-consonant] and is stressed, double the final consonant and add "ing":
  • run > running
  • forget > forgetting

The Negative Version

If you need the negative version, you can use the following construction:
"am," "is," or "are"
+
"not"
+
[present participle]
  • Caroline is not looking for the latest brochure.
  • Dan and Billy are not fishing off the pier.
Remember that "is not" and "are not" are sometimes written as the contractions "isn't" and "aren't."

The Question Version

If you need to ask a question, you can use the following word order for a yes/no question:
"am," "is," or "are"
+
[subject]
+
[present participle]
  • Is Caroline looking for the latest brochure?
  • Are Dan and Billy fishing off the pier?
You can use the following word order for a question-word question:
[question word]
+
"am," "is," or "are"
+
[subject]
+
[present participle]
  • Why is Caroline looking for the latest brochure?
  • When are Dan and Billy fishing off the pier?
You can use the following word order for a choice question:
"am," "is," or "are"
+
[subject]
+
[present participle]
+
choice A
+
or
+
choice B
  • Is Caroline looking for the latest brochure or her chair?
"am," "is," or "are"
+
[subject]
+
present participle A
+
or
+
present participle B
  • Are Dan and Billy fishing off or jumping off the pier?

Verb Tense Widget

Use 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 , you can click it!

The Other Present Tenses

The present progressive tense is one of four present tenses. They are:
The 4 Present Tenses Example
simple present tense I go
present progressive tense I am going
present perfect tense I have gone
present perfect progressive tense I have been going

Slider Showing All the Tenses

The following slider shows all 12 tenses. The present progressive tense is highlighted with a yellow background.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

Take a test on the present progressive tense Tenses Simple past tense Past progressive tense Past perfect tense Past perfect progressive tense Simple present tense Present perfect tense Present perfect progressive tense Simple future tense Future progressive tense Future perfect tense Future perfect progressive tense