Learn English | A new lesson every week
Book your course now

Continuous Tenses

Average: 3.6 (206 votes)

The continuous tense shows an action that is, was, or will be in progress at a certain time. The continuous tense is formed with the verb ‘be’ + -ing form of the verb.

The Present continuous can be used to show an action which is happening at the time of speaking.
I am having dinner at the moment.

The Past continuous can be used to show an action which was happening in the past. It is important to remember that the Past continuous is usually used to show an action which was happening when another action, which is usually shorter, happened at the same time, stopped the continuous action or started after the continuous action.
I was having dinner when Sarah called me.
I was walking along the beach when it started raining.

The Future continuous is used to show that an action will be happening at a time in the future.
I will be having dinner at my parents’ house tomorrow.

Here are some verbs in the continuous tense:


He is having a shower now. (Present continuous)
He was having a shower when the phone rang. (Past continuous)
He will be having a shower, so take the house keys when you go out. (Future continuous)


He is running right now. (Present continuous)
He was running when I saw him yesterday. (Past continuous)
He will be running tomorrow morning. (Future continuous)


I am watching a really good film now. (Present continuous)
I was watching a really good film when there was a power cut. (Past continuous)
I will be watching my favourite TV show when you arrive tomorrow. (Future continuous)


I am doing my homework at the moment. (Present continuous)
I was doing my homework all night. (Past continuous)
I will be doing my homework tonight. (Future continuous)

There are some verbs that do not take the continuous tense. These are verbs that explain or describe states rather than actions.
I like pasta. NOT I am liking pasta.
I am tired. NOT I am being tired.
I heard the car crash from my house. NOT I was hearing the car crash from my house.

Lesson by Tristan

Now choose the correct tense for the following:
(remember to look at the time expressions to help you)

  • 1. I _ a book when I heard the noise from the garden.

  • 2. Sarah _ in the next marathon. She is training hard for it.

  • 3. We _ dinner when you arrive tomorrow evening.

  • 4. The car _ at least 90 kph when it hit the side of the road.

  • 5. Danny _ at our Karaoke party last night.