What is Present Progressive Tense? Definition, Examples of English Verb Tense

Present progressive tense definition: The present progressive tense (also called present continuous tense) is the verb form of the present tense that expresses actions happening now, actions that are in progress, or actions that will occur in the near future.

What is Present Progressive Tense in English?

What does present progressive mean? The present progressive verb tense is used often in English to communicate actions that are happening now. This tense is also used to express actions that are in progress or will occur in the near future.

Present Progressive Examples:

  • I am swimming. (happening now)
  • I am reading an excellent book. (in progress)
  • I am going to the park on Saturday. (near future)

Forming the Present Progressive

Progressive tense definition To form present progressive verbs, follow this formula:

  • Subject + am/is/are + present participle (and “-ing” to end of the verb)

Present Progressive Tense Examples:

  • Verb: to clean
    • We are cleaning the garage on Sunday.
      • Note: simply add “-ing” to the end of a verb that ends in a consonant that does not have a short vowel sound
  • Verb: to run
    • He is running the race well.
      • Note: Most verbs that end in short vowel sounds will require an extra consonant before adding “ing”
  • Verb: to motivate
    • Your speech is motivating me to take action.
      • Note: A verb that ends in a “silent e” will drop the “e” before adding “ing”
  • Verb: to work
    • In the real world, Guttenberg is working on a sitcom with Jon Lovitz, which he describes as a “sort of spy vs. spy, two nemeses, with Jon as a loudmouth Rodney Dangerfield type and me as the Alan Arkin, uptight fellow.” –New York Post

Uses of the Present Progressive

The present progressive (continuous) tense can be used to express a few different situations. Here are the most common ways to use this verb form with diagrams to illustrate their meaning.

The present progressive is used to express:

  1. Actions happening now

Progressive verbs

These actions are occurring at the moment of speech. For example,

  • I am watching television.
  • You are frustrating me.
  • He is finishing his homework.
  1. Actions in progressPresent progressive verb


These actions are in progress but are not necessarily happening at the moment of speech. These are oftentimes longer actions that can take place over days, weeks, or months, so in the above graph, you can see the time frame is lengthened.

  • My dad is working on a solution to fix the leak.
  • They are trying to solve the problem.
  • I am training for a marathon.
  1. Actions that will occur in the near future

 Progressive tense verbs

These actions will happen soon. They also use “going” as the present participle and are followed by a prepositional phrase

  • She is going to the party this weekend.
  • We are going on vacation this summer.
  • They are going out for drinks later.

Summary: What is the Present Progressive?

Define present progressive: In grammar, the definition of present progressive tense is a verb form used to express ongoing activities happening now or in the near future.

To sum up, the present progressive (also called the present continuous):

  • is formed by adding a present “to be” verb and participle after the subject
  • expresses actions happing now
  • expresses actions that will occur soon
  • expresses actions in progress