When we speak about something that is happening now, at the moment of speaking, we use the present continuous tense. It is sometimes called the present progressive.
It's raining.= there is rain now
I'm having a shower.= I'm in the shower at the moment
How to form present continuous
We form the present continuous with the auxiliary verb to be in the present (am/is/are) and the main verb + -ing. ending
am/is/are + infinitive + -ing
doing starting reading
he she it
we you they
I am eating.
You are watching.
He is speaking.
She is explaining.
We are taking photos.
They are laughing.
We add not to am/is/are to make a negative sentence. And we put am/is/are before the subject to make a question. Let's take the verb "sing" as an example and make 3 types of sentences with I, you, he/she/it, we, they.
I am singing
I am not singing
Am I singing?
You are singing
You are not singing
Are you singing?
He/she/it is singing
He/she/it is not singing
Is he/she/it singing?
We are singing
We are not singing
Are we singing?
They are singing
They are not singing
Are they singing?
We normally use the contracted form of am/is/are with pronouns. It helps speak faster: I'm cooking, you're shaving, he's listening, we're going, they're discussing.
The same is true for the negative form: I'm not going, you aren't helping, she isn't listening, we aren't arguing, they aren't growing.
If there must be a question word (why, what, how, where), it will start the interrogative sentence.
Whatare you singing?
Whyis he leaving?
Short answers to questions in present continuous
We can avoid repeating the whole sentence when we answer a yes/no question.
Am I working hard now? Yes, I am.
Are you going home? Yes, you are.
Is he leaving? No, he isn't.
Is she wearing a hat? Yes, she is.
Is it snowing outside? No, it isn't.
Are we having fun? Yes, we are.
Are they having lunch? No, they aren't.
Mind that we don't use the contracted form in yes-answers: Yes, I am. Yes, you are. Yes, he is. But we usually use the short negative form in no-answers: No, I'm not. No, you aren't. No, he isn't.
he isn't. she isn't. it isn't.
he she it
he's not. she's not. it's not.
we you they
we're not. you're not. they're not.
we aren't. you aren't. they aren't.
Verb + -ing spelling rules
If the verb has one syllable and ends in a vowel + a consonant, then the last consonant doubles when we add -ing. Otherwise, the pronunciation will change. swim → swimming run → running
If the verb ends in a vowel + a consonant but has more than one syllable, then look which syllable is stressed. If it is the final syllable, we must double the consonant. prefer → preferring begin → beginning
If the verb ends in -l, then -l doubles. It does not matter which syllable is stressed. travel → travelling cancel → cancelling
If the verb ends in -e, we drop "e" when we add -ing. come → coming take → taking
If the verb ends in -ie, the letters "ie" change to "-ying" when we add -ing. lie → lying die → dying
How to use present continuous
We use the present continuous tense when:
the action is happening right now, at the present moment
You are reading this text.
What is he pointing at?
I'm not using the tablet, you can take it.
we mean a temporary situation or a tendency
Is Alice still working as a stewardess?
I'm trying to lose weight, so I'm not eating after 6 o'clock.
More and more people are giving up smoking.
speaking of plans, scheduled events
Are you coming to our party tomorrow?
Don't forget, we are meeting Mr Murray at 4 p.m.
with always, constantly to say that something happens too often and it's annoying
Why are you always wearing this ugly sweater?
He's always leaving things behind in taxis.
We don't use the present continuous with stative verbs. It is a special group of verbs that describe emotions (adore, care, hate, like, love etc.), intellectual processes (believe, think, know, remember, understand), possession (have, possess, belong). Even if we are talking about something happening now, we should put such verbs into the present simple, not continuous.
I'm going to the grocery store. Do you need anything?
Turn the music down. I don't understand what you are saying.