Monday, 5 October 2009

What Are You Doing??!! (Present Continuous)

English children probably first experience the Present Continuous when their mother or father come into the room and find them drawing on the wall or cutting the cat's fur or generally making a mess...

"Oh my goodness...what are YOU doing???!!!"

The construction is also a bit of a mess! You use '
to be' as the auxiliary verb and then the '-ing' form of the main verb.

I am reading 'English is Easy'.
Are they learning vocabulary?
She is not listening to you.

Here is a table with the different forms:


you, we, they
he, she, it
VERB + ing

you, we, they
he, she, it
VERB + ing

you, we, they
he, she, it
VERB + ing...?

Now, the main problem is, when do we use this tense?

All the examples above tell you about something which is happening at the moment, i.e. NOW!

So, right now I could say, "I am sitting in front of my PC at the moment."

If I go into the kitchen to make a coffee then I cannot say that because at that moment I am not sitting in front of my PC - I am standing in the kitchen.

Just why we English need a special tense for things which are happening right now I don't know but we do!

We use the Present Simple for things which go on all the time or every day or sometimes...i.e. general things and the Present Continuous for things happening right now.

My friend John is a smoker. So, have a look at these conversations:

YOU: Does John smoke? (Present Simple)

ME: Yes, he does.

(Because we are talking about a general situation)

YOU: Is John smoking? (Present Continuous)

ME: I don't know, he isn't here at the moment.

(because we are talking about a situation NOW)

If you don't have a special tense like this in your language (and you probably don't) I'm afraid you will make lots of mistakes until you get the feeling for it. So when you read a text and find a present continuous stop for a moment and try and work out why the writer has used it and slowly you will get the idea!

Finally, a question to think about; if you are in a room with an Englishman or woman and you ask:

Is it raining?

What do you think they do ??


jayne said...

He or she logs onto the Internet, weather page, and finds out exactly whether it is raining or not.

How many points do I get for that one?

what is a 1300 number said...

Employees really need to learn proper English grammar for the communication purpose.

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