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Grammar 16 - The Present Continuous Tense
"Is it raining outside now?" - This sentence is in the present continuous tense.

Grammar 16 - The Present Continuous Tense

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow are three words that all of us are familiar with. We love to remember our past, to live for the present and to think about the future. How does the English language help us to relate to the past, the present and the future? The answer is tenses.

Tenses help us to pinpoint the time when an action takes place. Since action is involved verbs come into play and tenses are primarily associated with verbs. The English language has three broad tenses, past, present and future. Each of these is further subdivided into four states representing an indefinite state, continuous or progressive state, perfect state and a perfect continuous state. The use of tense helps us to express a request or an order, a general truth or a recurring or habitual action. In the next three quizzes we take up the continuous or the progressive state and see how it is treated in the present and past tenses.

The way to form the present continuous tense is to add the helping verb "to be" (in the present tense - ARE, IS and AM) to the PRESENT PARTICIPLE of the main verb. The rules governing the use of the verb are these:

  • IS is used with HE, SHE or IT - ‘HE IS watching a movie’, ‘SHE IS watching a movie’ and ‘IT IS a good movie’.
  • AM is used with I - ‘I AM watching a movie’
  • and ARE is used with YOU, WE, THEY and PLURAL NOUNS - ‘YOU ARE watching a movie’,'WE ARE watching a movie’, 'THEY ARE watching a movie’ and 'MY FRIENDS ARE watching a movie’.
  • The present continuous tense is used to express continuing action or action in progress.
  • The tense is also used to express the continuity of the action. For instance, ‘the boys ARE PLAYING a cricket match’.
  • For expressing in the negative form the word ‘NOT’ is placed between the helping verb and the main verb (present participle). For instance, ‘The dignitary IS NOT GOING’.
  • For expressing in the interrogative form the helping verb is placed before the subject. For instance, ‘WAS TENDULKAR BATTING?’

Take the quiz that follows and see how much you understand the present continuous tense.

1.
"--- it --- outside now?" Choose the verbs expressing the present continuous tense to fill up the blanks.
Is --- rain
Am --- raining
Are --- raining
Is --- raining
Note that in the interrogative form, the helping verb is used before the subject. Here, the subject is 'it' and the helping word to be used is 'is'. The present participle of 'rain' is 'raining'
2.
"The cars --- side by side." Choose the verbs expressing the present continuous tense to fill up the blank.
Are running
Is running
Am running
Is run
Remember the rules. ARE or IS or AM are used with the present participle of the verb. Here, 'running' is the present participle of 'run' and 'are' is used for plurals just as it is used for 'they'
3.
"Vikram --- to the conference." Choose the verbs expressing the present continuous tense to fill up the blank.
Is uncoming
Is not coming
Are not coming
Am not coming
Note that in the negative form, 'not' is placed between the helping verb and the present participle of the main verb. The other negative forms would be 'they are not coming to the conference' and 'I am not coming to the conference'
4.
"The friends --- in the hotel." Choose the verbs expressing the present continuous tense to fill up the blank.
Are meeting
Is meeting
Are meet
Meeting
Remember the rules. ARE or IS or AM are used with the present participle of the verb. Here, 'meeting' is the present participle of 'meet' and 'are' is used for plurals
5.
"Why --- you --- so slow?" Choose the verbs expressing the present continuous tense to fill up the blanks.
Is --- walk
Is --- walking
Are --- walking
Am --- walking
Note that in the interrogative form, the helping verb is used before the subject. Here, the subject is 'you' and the helping word to be used is 'are'. The interrogative sentence for other subjects would be 'why is he walking so slow' or 'why am I walking so slow'. The present participle remains the same
6.
"Trupti --- a novel now." Choose the verbs expressing the present continuous tense to fill up the blank.
Is writes
Are writes
Is write
Is writing
Trupti is a person in the singular and hence 'is' is the correct usage to go with the present participle of 'write'. The other options do not use the present participle of 'write'
7.
"They --- for Bangalore tomorrow." Choose the verbs expressing the present continuous tense to fill up the blank.
Is leave
Am leaving
Is leaving
Are leaving
Remember the rules. ARE or IS or AM are used with the present participle of the verb. Here, 'leaving' is the present participle of 'leave' and 'are' is used for 'they' or plurals
8.
"Milk --- from the nozzle." Choose the verbs expressing the present continuous tense to fill up the blank.
Are dripping
Is dripping
Am dripping
Is drip
'Milk' is a substance and 'is' the correct usage to go with the present participle of 'drip'. 'Are' is used with 'you', 'we', 'they' and plurals. 'Am' is used with 'I'
9.
"Look! The Boeing 747 ---." Choose the verbs expressing the present continuous tense to fill up the blank.
Am landing
Are landing
Is landing
Is landed
Remember the rule that 'is' is used with 'it' or a singular thing. 'am' is used with 'I' and 'are' is used for plurals. Answer 4 is in the past tense
10.
"Why --- he --- such a noise?" Choose the verbs expressing the present continuous tense to fill up the blanks.
Is --- making
Are --- making
Am --- making
Is --- make
Note that in the interrogative form, the helping verb is used before the subject. Here, the subject is 'he' and the helping word to be used is 'is'. The present participle of 'make' is 'making'. In the other forms the sentence would read 'why are they making such a noise' or 'why am I making such a noise'
Author:  V T Narendra

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