Grammar-QuizzesVerb PhrasesVerb GroupPresent Tense › Progressive

Present Progressive (Continuous)

Express ongoing, continuous or repetitive activity

jogging
 

 

Permanent vs. Temporary

HABIT

Present nonprogressive reports habitual or routine activity. The tense does not focus on the timing, rather it focuses on the activity. It expresses "general truth" or routine activity. Expressions for timing can be added, for example, "calendar times" (daily, yearly, in the evening, early), frequency (sometimes, rarely, often) or time related activities (after work, while talking to a friend).                                                                        

SUBJ PREDICATE ADJUNCT
NP VERB OPTIONAL ADVERB

Helen

runs.

runs

runs

(no adverb)

often.

in the afternoon.

Helen

teaches

teaches

teaches

physical education.

classes frequently.

classes daily.

She

listens

listens

listens

to a playlist.

to a playlist usually.

to a playlist as she runs.

ONGOING, CONTINUOUS, REPETITIVE

Present progressive (aspect) takes an internal experience view of how an activity relates to time —ongoing, continuous, or repetitive. The activity may be occurring: (1) temporarily "at the moment", (2) continuously "without stopping" or "with starts and stops". The timing may range, for example, from a second to a year, depending on how the speaker imagines his/her present time-frame.

SUBJ PREDICATE ADJUNCT
NP PROG. VERB ADVERB–TIME

Helen

is running

is improving¹

is running

outside right now. (ongoing)

her endurance. (continuous)

a six-mile route this year. (repetitive)

Helen

is attending

is taking

is learning

her math class today. (now)

a math class this semester. (repetitive)

a lot. (continuous)

Helen

is listening

is listening

is listening²

to her playlist at the moment. (now)

to an audiobook this week. (repetitive)

for her phone to ring. (continuous)

 Also see related pages: Present–At Moment | Past Progressive | Present Perfect Progressive.

¹present progressive and present perfect are similar but occur in slightly different contexts. Helen is improving her endurance. (ongoing, present context), Helen has improved her endurance. (ongoing, from the past and up to now) Helen has been improving her endurance. (ongoing, from the past and continuing to the future).  See Present Perfect: Up to Now, Present Perfect: State of Mind and Present Perfect: Ongoing vs. Completed.

²Some verbs have a meaning that expresses a short activity with a clear beginning and ending (punctual verbs); these are more likely to be repetitive. Other verbs have a meaning that expresses a timeless action (process verbs); these are more likely to be continuous. See and Verb Meaning & Timing, Verbs of Short and Long Duration, and Duration vs Completion (process v. accomplishment).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Present Adverbs (time expressions)

Specify the timing of an action or activity

walking
 

 

Present Time Expressions — definite vs. indefinite timing

DEFINITE TIMING  "HAPPENING AROUND NOW"

Adverbial expressions with definite timing are used when actions can be marked on a timeline (clock/calendar); they have endpoints/goals. Compare: I am walking to class today. (definite timing, it ends when I arrive at class) to I walk to class. (indefinite timing, "timeless", no endpoint, a routine).

WITH PROGRESSIVE VERBS WITH PROGRESSIVE VERBS

I am walking to class now

*I walk to class now.

I am walking to class today

*I walk to class today.¹

NOW THIS ...

now (just now, right now)

currently (presently)

today / tonight (word origin – this day, this night) 

 

at the moment  (for now, for the time being, for now, at present)

this month  (time not passed: morning, evening, week, semester, this spring, year, decade, century)

as we speak (expression: now)

these moments  (time not passed: weeks, months, semesters, years)

still (with a negative verb: no longer)

Used with progressive.

this Tuesday (June 20, June 20, 2020) (in the current week)

 

 

INDEFINITE TIMING "HAPPENING SOMETIME"

Adverbial expressions with indefinite timing are used when activities or states happen "sometime", not related to a timeline. The precise time is not important. The focus is on the activity or state.  These adverbs express duration (a period of time) or repetition (the interval of occurrence).

BOTH PROGRESSIVE & NON BOTH PROGRESSIVE & NON

I am walking to class temporarily.

I walk to class during the week.

I am walking to class often.

I walk to class often.

DURATION  REPETITION

temporarily(continuously, briefly, momentarily) [imperfective, ongoing] ⇒ Mostly progressive.

repeatedly(constantly, continuously, again and again, perpetually, eternally)⇒ Switch to "keep" with progressive.³

for a moment (ten minutes, a week, a month, for a while², a little while, a day,  forever)  ⇒ Often present perfect.

always (routinely, customarily, usually, in general, normally, often, sometimes, hardly ever, never)

during the week (month, year, etc.) ⇒ Mostly nonprogressive.

at night (noon, midnight, sunset)

in spring (winter, summer, June, July)

from Monday to Tuesday(1 PM to 2 PM, morning to night)

⇒ Mostly nonprogressive.

on Mondays (Tuesday, Sundays, etc.)

most days (nights, weekends, etc.)

while it is warm(a relative time: when, if, whenever, before, after)  before lunch  (after)

every / each / every other day  (hour, day, night, week, month, year, May, spring)

 

¹ adverbs like today or this month include time that is past, present and future. With the present tense, we understand the time to be present, current, now. "I walk to class today," could also be understood as a scheduled activity. See Scheduled Events—Routine vs. Near Future.

² for a while (PP) – can be understood in two ways: (1) having some amount of duration, or (2) being very temporary

³ keep + verb+ing – Repetition can be expressed by using the "keep" (I keep walking.  He kept smiling.)  The progressive with "repeatedly" (*I am walking to class repeatedly. )sounds awkward.

Specific adverbial pages: Frequency Adverbs| Preps for Time—In v. On v. At | During v. In | For-Since

Related tense pages:   Past vs. Progressive | Present vs. Present Perfect Progressive | Future vs. Future Progressive (will)

 

 

 

 

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Grammar Notes (Advanced)

Traditional and Linguistic Description

 

 

 

Traditional and Linguistic Description

TRADITIONAL / ESL DESCRIPTION LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

In traditional grammar, auxiliary verbs (linking verbs) are treated as auxiliary combinations with other verbs (verb groups). Verbs are "grouped". Aux Verb Diagrams 

Simple Present  "The simple present says that something was true in the past, is true in the present, and will be true in the future. It expresses general statements of fact and general truths." (Azar  2-1)

Present Progressive "The present progressive expresses an activity that is in progress at the moment of speaking. It is temporary activity that began in the past, is continuing at present, and will probably end at some pont in the future." (Azar 2-2)

Form: Be + -ing (present participle)  [No grammar term is given for "be".]

________________________

"simple present" or "present simple" — General Time: for permanent situations, or about things that happen regularly, repeatedly or all the time" (Swan 463)

"present progressive" or "present continuous" Around Now (1) temporary, continuing situations that are going on now or 'around now': before, during and after the moment of speaking; (2) repeated actions happening around the present. (3) developments and changes. (Swan 464)

Form: am / are / is + -ing

 

 In current linguistic analysis, auxiliaries are main verbs followed by gerund-participle or past participle verb forms in subordinated nonfinite clauses. In this example, the auxiliary is followed by a gerund-participle.  (Huddleston 104,1218) Also see Auxiliary Verb Form Types (progressive).

 

KELLOGG-REED PARSE DIAGRAM TREE DIAGRAM

Helen is jogging around the track.

Diagram: Helen is jogging around the track.     

 

Word Categories: N – Noun; V – Verb; Aux – Auxiliary; Adj – Adjective; Adv – Adverb; P –Preposition; Det –Determiner.

Phrasal Categories: NP – Noun Phrase; VP – Verb Phrase; AdjP – Adjective Phrase; AdvP – Adverb Phrase; PP – Prepositional Phrase; DP – Determinative Phrase.

Clausal Categories: Cls – clause; F – finite clause; NF – nonfinite clause (Ger – gerund; Inf – infinitive; PPart – past participle).

Word Functions: Subj – subject; Pred – predicate/predicator; Compcomplement: elements required by an expression to complete its meaning (DO – direct object; IO – indirect object);  Adjunctadjunct: elements not required by an expression to complete its meaning (Subord – subordinator; Coord – coordinator); Suplsupplement: a clause or phrase added onto a clause that is not closely related to the central thought or structure of the main clause.

 

 

Works Cited

  • Azar, Betty Schrampfer, and Stacy A. Hagen. Understanding and Using English Grammar. 4th ed., Pearson Education, 2009.
  • Huddleston, Rodney D., and Geoffrey K. Pullum. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge UP, 2002.
  • Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage. 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2005.

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Changes in Habits

couch potato
 

Present or present progressive?

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button to the right.

 

Paragraph 1

1.
 
 

compete (V) - take part in a sports competion  An athlete competes to win.

 

 

Paragraph 2

2.
 
 

skip (V) - to not do a usual habit or activity.

 

 

 

Paragraph 3

3.
 
 

 

 

Paragraph 4

4.
 
 

Related page: Stative Verbs – verbs that do not take the progressive tense  

 

 

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Practice 2

Laid Off!

Laid off
 

 

Present or present progressive?

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button to the right.

 

Paragraph 6

6.
 
 
 

 

 

Paragraph 7

7.
 
 
 
 

Related page Time-Relative Events "until"