Make your own free website on Tripod.com

www.vinie16.com

PROGRESSIVE TENSES

Home
Intel Teach
poems & quotes

PRESENT PROGRESSIVE TENSE
 
[AM / IS / ARE] + [VERB+ing]

EXAMPLES:

I am watching TV.

He is quickly learning the language.

NOTE: When you are using a verb tense with more than one part such as Present Continuous (is learning), adverbs often come between the first part and the second part (is quickly learning).
 
Now     

Use the Present Continuous with Continuous Verbs to express the idea that something is happening now, at this very moment. It can also be used to show that something is not happening now.

EXAMPLES:

You are learning English now.

You are not swimming now.

I am sitting.

I am not standing.

They are reading their books.

They are not watching television.
 
 
Longer Actions in Progress Now    

In English, now can mean "this second," "today," "this month," "this year," "this century" and so on. Sometimes we use the Present Continuous to say that we are in the process of doing a longer action which is in progress; however, we might not be doing it at this exact second.

EXAMPLES: (All of these sentences can be said while eating dinner in a restaurant.)

I am studying to become a doctor.

I am not studying to become a dentist.

I am reading the book Tom Sawyer.

I am not reading any books right now.

Are you working on any special projects at work?
Near Future    

Sometimes, speakers use the Present Continuous to indicate that something will or will not happen in the near future.

EXAMPLES:

I am meeting some friends after work.

I am not going to the party tonight.

Is he visiting his parents next weekend.

Isn't he coming with us tonight.

Repetition and Irritation with "Always"    

The Present Continuous with words such as "always" or "constantly" expresses the idea that something irritating or shocking often happens. Notice that the meaning is like Simple Present but with negative emotion. Remember to put the words "always" or "constantly" between "be" and "verb+ing."

EXAMPLES:

She is always coming to class late.

He is constantly talking. I wish he would shut up.

I don't like them because they are always complaining.


PAST PROGRESSIVE TENSE
 
[WAS / WERE] + [VERB+ing]
 

EXAMPLES:

I was studying when she called.

I was carefully picking up the snake when it bit me.


NOTE: When you are using a verb tense with more than one part such as Past Continuous (was picking), adverbs often come between the first part and the second part (was carefully picking).

IMPORTANT

Clauses are groups of words which have meaning but are not complete sentences. Some clauses begin with the word when such as "...when she called " or "...when it bit me." Clauses with the Past Continuous usually start with while. While expresses the idea "during the time." Study the examples below. They have the same meaning.

EXAMPLES:

I was studying when she called.

While I was studying, she called.


 Interrupted Action in the Past    

Use the Past Continuous to indicate that a longer action in the past was interrupted. The interruption is usually an action in the Simple Past. Remember this can be a real interruption or just an interruption in time.

EXAMPLES:

I was watching TV when she called.

When the phone rang, she was writing a letter.

While we were having a picnic, it started to rain.

Sally was working when Joe had the car accident.

While John was sleeping last night, someone stole his car.



Specific Time as an Interruption    

In USE 1, described above, the Past Continuous is interrupted by an action in the Simple Past. However, you can also use a specific time as an interruption.

EXAMPLES:

Last night at 6 p.m., I was eating dinner.

At midnight, we were still driving through the desert.


IMPORTANT

In the Simple Past a specific time is used to show when an action began or finished. In the Past Continuous a specific time only interrupts the action.

EXAMPLES:

Last night at 6 p.m., I ate dinner.
(I started eating at 6 p.m.)

Last night at 6 p.m., I was eating dinner.
(I started earlier and at 6 p.m. I was in the process of eating dinner.)

Parallel Actions    

When you use the Past Continuous with two actions in the same sentence, it expresses the idea that both actions were happening at the same time. The actions are parallel.

EXAMPLES:

I was studying while he was making dinner.

While Ellen was reading, Tim was watching television.

They were eating dinner, discussing their plans and having a good time.

Atmosphere

In English we often use a series of Parallel Actions to describe atmosphere in the past.

EXAMPLE:

When I walked into the office, several people were busily typing, some were talking on the phones, the boss was yelling directions, and customers were waiting to be helped. One customer was yelling at a secretary and waving his hands. Others were complaining to each other about the bad service.


Repetition and Irritation with "Always"    

The Past Continuous with words such as always or constantly expresses the idea that something irritating or shocking often happened in the past. The concept is very similar to the expression used to but with negative emotion. Remember to put the words always or constantly between "be" and "verb+ing."

EXAMPLES:

She was always coming to class late.

He was constantly talking. He annoyed everyone.

I didn't like them because they were always complaining.



IMPORTANT Non-Continuous Verbs/ Mixed Verbs

It is important to remember that
Non-Continuous Verbs cannot be used in any "continuous" tenses. Also, certain "non-continuous" meanings for Mixed Verbs cannot be used in "continuous" tenses. To express the idea of Past Continuous with these verbs, you must use Simple Past.

EXAMPLES:

Jane was being at my house when you arrived. Not Correct

Jane was at my house when you arrived.
Correct

FUTURE PROGRESSIVE TENSE

[WILL BE] + [VERB+ing]

EXAMPLE:

When your plane arrives tonight, I will be waiting for you.


[AM / IS / ARE] + [GOING TO] + [VERBing]

EXAMPLE:

When your plane arrives tonight, I am going to be waiting for you.

NOTE: It is possible to use either "will" or "going to" to create the Future Continuous with little or no difference in meaning.


Interrupted Action in the Future     

Use the Future Continuous to indicate that a longer action in the future will be interrupted. The interruption is usually an action in the Simple Future. Remember this can be a real interruption or just an interruption in time.

EXAMPLES:

I will be watching TV when she arrives tonight.

I will be waiting for you when your bus arrives.

While I am working, Steve will make dinner. (NOTICE "am working" because of "while.")

I am going to be staying at the Madison Hotel, if anything happens and you need to contact me.

He will be studying at the library tonight, so he will not see Jennifer when she arrives.


NOTE: No future tenses can be used in Time Clauses therefore you must say "While I am working... ." See the warning at the top of the page.


Specific Time as an Interruption     

In USE 1, described above, the Future Continuous is interrupted by an action in the Simple Future. However, you can also use a specific time as an interruption.

EXAMPLES:

Tonight at 6 p.m., I am going to be eating dinner.

At midnight tonight, we will still be driving through the desert.


IMPORTANT

In the Simple Future a specific time is used to show the time an action will begin. In the Future Continuous, a specific time only interrupts the action.

EXAMPLES:

Tonight at 6 p.m., I am going to eat dinner.
I am going to start eating at 6 p.m.

Tonight at 6 p.m., I am going to be eating dinner.
I am going to start earlier and I will be in the process of eating dinner at 6 p.m. .
 Parallel Actions    

When you use the Future Continuous with two actions in the same sentence, it expresses the idea that both actions will be happening at the same time. These are Parallel Actions.

EXAMPLES:

I am going to be studying while he is making dinner.

While Ellen is reading, Tim will be watching television.

Tonight, they will be eating dinner, discussing their plans, and having a good time.


 Atmosphere

In English we often use a series of Parallel Actions to describe atmosphere in the future.

EXAMPLE:

When I arrive at the party everybody is going to be celebrating. Some will be dancing. Others are going to be talking. A few people will be eating pizza and several people are going to be drinking beer. They always do the same thing.