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Student Information

ENGLISH LANGUAGE TIPS

English Grammar Tenses II: Continuous Tenses

Present Continuous Tense

Present Continuous Tenses are used when describing a particular point in time.  In the Present Continuous Tense we are discussing something that is happening now.  We add the suffix –ing to the word stem to create examples like the following. 

  • I’m eating
  • I’m not eating
  • Am I eating?

Present Perfect Continuous Tense

Present Perfect Continuous Tenses are used to describe something that has been occurring up until this point (and/or is still occurring,) and to describe the length of time that something has been occurring up until this point.

  • I’ve been eating.
  • Have I been eating?
  • I’ve been eating for fifteen minutes.

Past Continuous Tense

Past Continuous Tenses are used to describe a past action that occurred over a period of time. 

  • What were you eating last night for dinner?
  • I was eating fish last night for dinner.
  • I was eating when the phone rang.
  • As I was eating, the phone rang.

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

The Past Perfect Continuous refers to longer situations that occurred up until the moment in the past we are discussing, and can describe the length of time they occurred for.

  • By the time I turned fifteen years old, I had been eating solid food for fourteen years.
  • I was extremely hungry because I had been fasting since you arrived last week.
  • I was extremely hungry because I had been fasting for ten days.

Future Continuous Tense

The Future Continuous Tense is used for certain specific future arrangements and plans. 

  • What are you doing this evening?
  • I’m having dinner with my grandmother this evening at Bella Italia.
  • What are you eating for dinner this evening?
  • I’m eating pasta for dinner this evening.
  • When are you eating dinner?
  • I’m eating dinner at five o’clock this evening.

Hopefully this has added some clarity to your understanding of the Continuous Tenses.  As you practise them with different verbs and in various contexts, your use of the English Grammar Tenses will grow.