Grammar: Continuous verbs (“-ing”)

Forming continuous verbs is fairly easy, because the form is always the same:

verb + ing

However the words that come before this verb change, depending on who you are referring to. Below is a list of the ways to use continuous tense.

Subject am/are/is/etc Negative form Continuous Verb
Present Continuous
I am (I’m) am not (I’m not) eating
You are (You’re) are not (You’re not) eating
They are (They’re) are not (They’re not) eating
We are (We’re) are not (We’re not) eating
He is (He’s) is (He isn’t) eating
She is (She’s) is (She isn’t) eating
It is (It’s) is (It isn’t) eating
For example: I can’t talk right now because I’m eating dinner.
Past Continuous
I/he/she/it was was not (wasn’t) eating
all others were were not (weren’t) eating
For example: She cried whilst she was eating the ice cream.
Future Continuous
All will be will not be (won’t be) eating
For example: We will be eating out at a restaurant for her birthday tomorrow.
Perfect Present Continuous
I/You/We/They have been have not been (haven’t been) eating
He/She/It has been has not been (hasn’t been)
For example: He has been eating nothing but fast food for a week.
Perfect Past Continuous
All had been had not been (hadn’t been) eating
For example: They had been eating breakfast when they heard the earthquake.

Now for an exercise!

Answer the blanks, using the tense listed in the brackets. (Hint – some are negative)

  1. The mother was angry because the children ______ (Past continuous) jumping on the bed.
  2. We _____ (present continuous) going to the party tonight, because we ______ (future continuous) working tomorrow.
  3. John ______ (past perfect continuous) on vacation in Spain when he met Maria.
  4. Ever since Carol became a vegetarian, she ______ (perfect present continuous) eating meat.

Comment below with these answers!

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