Present Progressive Tense
In order to construct the Present Progressive Tense (also called Present Continuous) you need a form of to BE (am/is/are) and the base form of a verb plus the suffix "-ing".
read > I am reading / she is reading / they are reading
The Present Progressive Tense is used to express that something is happening right now.
My parents are watching TV in the living room.
Certain signal words indicate the use of the Present Progressive Tense. These include:
now / right now / just now
at the moment
Listen! / Look!
Furthermore, the Present Progressive Tense is used to express an exception, whereas the Present Simple Tense usually refers to a routine. In the following example you will notice the difference.
Every weekend I visit my aunt, but this weekend I am working on a project for school.
Apart from that, the Present Progressive Tense is also used to refer to an event in the future, which has been planned.
Sam is coming to the party tonight.
Last but not least, the Present Progressive Tense is used to indicate that an activity is in progress, which means changing or developing.
Your English is improving.
It is important to remember that some verbs cannot be used in the Present Progressive Tense. These include
- abstract verbs: be, need, want, ...
- emotion verbs: love, like, hate, ...
- possession verbs: own, possess, ...
He is liking chocolate. > INCORRECT!!
Use the Present Simple Tense instead! > He likes chocolate.
Present Simple Tense
In contrast to the Present Progressive Tense, the Present Simple is used to refer to a general fact or a routine. The following signal words indicate the use of the Present Simple:
always / often
normally / usually
every day / week / month / year ...
Notice the difference of the following two sentences:
Jane works in a coffee shop.
Jane is working in a coffee shop this summer.
Asking Questions
Asking questions in the Present Progressive Tense is fairly easy, as it does not require an auxiliary verb. In general, questions in English are constructed as follows:
yes/no questions:           Verb(1)  -  Subject  -  Verb(2)
extended questions:      Question Word  -  Verb(1)  -  Subject  -  Verb(2)
This word order also applies to questions in the Present Progressive Tense.
yes/no questions: e.g. Are you using the computer right now?
extended questions: e.g. Why are you drinking tea again?
Only in case you ask for the subject by using "who" or "what", the word order is slightly changed.
asking for the subject:    WHO / WHAT  -  Verb(1)  -  Verb(2)
Who is knocking at the door?