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7-D) Present Continuous (Grammar Gurus) UNIT 7 lesson D
 

The present continuous tense. When and how we use it.

In this lesson Rama Explains how we form and use the present continuous tense. Watch out for the Zombies!

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Most languages have a way of showing that an action is happening 'right now' with either a verb tense or an adverb. In English we use the Present Continuous tense. What's different about English as opposed to many other languages is how often we use the present continuous tense. In most other languages if someone asked you what you were doing right now you could answer "I read" or simply just "Read" but in English we always have to emphasize that the action is happening right now. We have to say "I'm reading"

There are some verbs that we never put into the continuous tense when we use formal English, we think that these verbs are hard to really 'do' and so it's hard 'to be doing' them now and so they are not used in the present continuous. These are called non-continuous verbs. Let's look at some common non-continuous verbs: believe, know, like, love, hate, understand, want, need, cost, own. Now let's look at some examples: We say 'I believe in God,' not 'I am believing in God'; We say 'I like ice-cream,' not 'I am liking ice-cream'; we say 'I love you,' not 'I am loving you.'

We form the present continuous tense by using a subject + the verb to be(is, am, are) + a verb-ing. (To learn how to form questions and use negatives in the present continuous just watch the video above.) It's important to note that you need both the verb to be and the verb --ing (also known as the present participle) to make the present continuous tense. If you only have a verb-ing it's actually not acting as a verb at all but is most likely acting as a noun or maybe an adjective. For example the sentence 'I like swimming,' is not the present continuous. In this sentence 'swimming' is not a verb, it is acting as a noun... the act of swimming. We will have a future video talking all about when verbs act as nouns or adjectives in sentences, also known as 'verbals'. So for now just remember, if you don't have the verb to be in the present tense(is, am, are) than you don't have the present continuous tense.

Lastly let's talk about the present continuous for the future. Yes, in English we use the present continuous to talk about the future all the time. The safest rule, especially for non-native English speakers, is to only use the present continuous to talk about the future if you have very certain plans for the future. I call this the 'bought the ticket rule'. If you have bought a ticket to do something that shows that you have a serious intention to do it and so you can use the present continuous to talk about it. It's as if by buying the ticket you have already started the process of doing it and so you are almost doing it right now. If I say 'I am going to the beach this weekend' I have made plans and my mind is already in the ' going to the beach mode'. Maybe I've already packed my bag, I'm thinking about what book I want to bring.... I am going to the beach this weekend. You don't need to actually buy a ticket that's just a way of showing your intent to do something..
Enjoy the video!

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