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Back to basics. The present continuous

Ongoing action

The present continuous or progressive is the most used verb tense in the English language.

The present, I work, is not enough to express an ongoing action, I am working does that without a doubt. A useful example, your colleague asks: "When is the report ready?" and you answer: "I am working on it". The progressive form is also called a gerund.

Other languages

In my household where we have knowledge of French, Italian, Dutch, Danish, and German we started to translate I am working on it, not the easiest task. The French use gerund, but not as often, in Italian, it is more common. In other languages, the present is utilised with an adverb expressing now or replaced by a completely other sentence construction to say you are doing it as we speak. In Dutch and Danish, the gerund is a form that exists but is not often used in the same way as in English. In German, the gerund doesn't exist and the infinitive is used as a standalone gerund. Take "Smoking is forbidden". Both in Dutch and German, the infinitive is used instead. No wonder that not everyone finds the present progressive very easy.

Try it out yourself

The good news is that the present progressive is quite easy to form and recognise. If you know how to conjugate to be, know the base verb (infinitive without to) and add -ing- to the base verb, you have tackled the fundamentals. How to apply the present continuous will be become clear by doing it yourself.

Please find below the link to the document and the downloadable document::

Present Continuous A1_2
Download DOCX • 474KB

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