What Are the Progressive Tenses? (with Examples)
Progressive TensesProgressive tense is a category of verb tense used to describe ongoing actions. The progressive tenses are the past progressive tense, the present progressive tense, and the future progressive tense. The progressive tenses are sometimes called the "continuing" or "continuous" tenses.
Examples of Verbs in a Progressive TenseHere are some examples of verbs in a progressive tense:
The Past Progressive Tense
- I was going.
- He was seeing.
- I am going.
- He is seeing.
- I will be going.
- He will be seeing.
Slider Showing Verbs in the Progressive AspectThe following slider shows all 12 tenses. The progressive tenses (i.e., those in the progressive aspect) are highlighted with a yellow background.
Examples of Verbs in the Progressive TensesThe progressive tenses are recognizable by the present participle (i.e., the word that ends "-ing"). Here are some examples of verbs in the progressive tenses.
In the Past Tense:
- He was playing. (past progressive tense)
- They were singing. (past progressive tense)
- I am diving. (present progressive tense)
- We are leaving. (present progressive tense)
- I will be talking. (future progressive tense)
- We will be running. (future progressive tense)
Forming the Progressive TensesThe progressive aspect is formed using a form of the auxiliary verb "to be" and the present participle. For example:
Forming the Past Progressive Tense
"was" or "were"+
- She was thinking.
- We were filming.
Forming the Present Progressive Tense
"is" or "are"+
- She is eating.
- We are playing.
Forming the Future Progressive Tense
- He will be presenting.
Verb Tenses Showing the Progressive TensesHere are all 12 tenses. The progressive (or continuing) tenses are shaded in yellow.
|The 4 Past Tenses||Example|
|simple past tense||I went|
|past progressive tense||I was going|
|past perfect tense||I had gone|
|past perfect progressive tense||I had been going|
|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|
|The 4 Future Tenses||Example|
|simple future tense||I will go|
|future progressive tense||I will be going|
|future perfect tense||I will have gone|
|future perfect progressive 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!
The Progressive AspectThe term progressive aspect is used to group all verbs (past, present, and future) in the progressive tenses. (Remember that the aspect of a verb is determined by whether its action is ongoing or completed.)
Why Should I Care about the Progressive Tenses?If you're learning or teaching English, you must spend time learning the tenses because expressing when something occurs is a fundamental skill when communicating. Remember that tenses do not just state whether an action is a past, present, or future one. Tenses also state whether an action is habitual, completed, or ongoing. (These are called the aspects of the tenses.).
Here's a good tip to help you with mastering the tenses: Concentrate on 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., driving, knowing, playing)
- Past participles (e.g., driven, known, played)