Present Progressive Tense

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Present Progressive Tense? (with Examples)

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.

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 you are 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?

Infographic for the Present Progressive Tense

present progressive tense
The tables below show all 12 tenses so you can see the present progressive tense among the other tenses. (You can change the verb by clicking one of the green buttons.)

Top 10 Regular Verbs

Top 10 Irregular Verbs

All 4 Past Tenses

PersonSimple PastPast Progressive TensePast Perfect TensePast Perfect Progressive Tense
  • I
  • you
  • he/she/it
  • we
  • you
  • they
  • past tense
  • past tense
  • past tense
  • past tense
  • past tense
  • past tense
The simple past tense is for a completed activity that happened in the past.
  • was present participle
  • were present participle
  • was present participle
  • were present participle
  • were present participle
  • were present participle
The past progressive tense is for an ongoing activity in the past. Often, it is used to set the scene for another action.
  • had past participle
  • had past participle
  • had past participle
  • had past participle
  • had past participle
  • had past participle
The past perfect tense is for emphasizing that an action was completed before another took place.
  • had been present participle
  • had been present participle
  • had been present participle
  • had been present participle
  • had been present participle
  • had been present participle
The past perfect progressive tense is for showing that an ongoing action in the past has ended.

All 4 Present Tenses

PersonSimple PresentPresent Progressive TensePresent Perfect TensePresent Perfect Progressive Tense
  • I
  • you
  • he/she/it
  • we
  • you
  • they
  • base form
  • base form
  • 3rd pers sing present
  • base form
  • base form
  • base form
The simple present tense is mostly for a fact or a habit.
  • am present participle
  • are present participle
  • is present participle
  • are present participle
  • are present participle
  • are present participle
The present progressive tense is for an ongoing action in the present.
  • have past participle
  • have past participle
  • has past participle
  • have past participle
  • have past participle
  • have past participle
The present perfect tense is for an action that began in the past. (Often, the action continues into the present.)
  • have been present participle
  • have been present participle
  • has been present participle
  • have been present participle
  • have been present participle
  • have been present participle
The present perfect progressive tense is for a continuous activity that began in the past and continues into the present (or finished very recently).

All 4 Future Tenses

PersonSimple FutureFuture Progressive TenseFuture Perfect TenseFuture Perfect Progressive Tense
  • I
  • you
  • he/she/it
  • we
  • you
  • they
  • will base form
  • will base form
  • will base form
  • will base form
  • will base form
  • will base form
The simple future tense is for an action that will occur in the future.
  • will be present participle
  • will be present participle
  • will be present participle
  • will be present participle
  • will be present participle
  • will be present participle
The future progressive tense is for an ongoing action that will occur in the future.
  • will have past participle
  • will have past participle
  • will have past participle
  • will have past participle
  • will have past participle
  • will have past participle
The future perfect tense is for an action that will have been completed at some point in the future.
  • will have been present participle
  • will have been present participle
  • will have been present participle
  • will have been present participle
  • will have been present participle
  • will have been present participle
The future perfect progressive tense is for an ongoing action that will be completed at some specified time in the future.

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

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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

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