The present progressive tense is a verb inflection that many find quite confusing. We will examine what is present progressive tense, the difference between simple present and present progressive tenses, when to use the present progressive form, as well as some present progressive examples.
The present progressive tense is constructed by pairing the present tense of the verb to be, along with the present participle of the main verb. In this case, the verb to be is an auxiliary or helping verb. The present participle form of a verb is the inflection formed by adding the suffix -ing. Even if the verb in question is irregular, the present progressive form always involves the auxiliary verb to be and the present participle of the verb, which always ends in -ing. There are no exceptions to the structuring of the present progressive tense, though the present progressive tense in Spanish may involve many differing spelling conventions.
Present progressive English verbs are mainly used in three situations. First, the present progressive tense is used when describing an action in progress, something that is currently ongoing, something that is happening at this instant:
I can’t talk right now, I am driving the car to the store.
John’s mouth is full because he is eating an egg salad sandwich.
Jenny is walking to the park to play tetherball.
The present progressive is also used to indicate an action that is going to take place in the near future, something that is planned on:
On the way home, I am driving the car to the store to pick up ice cream.
John is eating an egg salad sandwich at lunchtime.
Later, Jenny is walking to the park to play tetherball.
The present progressive tense is also used when describing something that occurs in a regular fashion, but is unwanted and unplanned. This use involves adding adverbs such as always, constantly, endlessly:
I am always driving the car to the store to pick up something I forgot to buy.
John is always eating an egg salad sandwich at his desk.
Whenever it’s time for chores, Jenny is walking to the park to play tetherball.
Note the difference between simple present tense and present progressive tense. Simple present tense involves a general statement describing something that happens regularly or on a schedule, something that is a repeated action or a sequence of actions. Present progressive tense involves actions that are currently in progress but will end at some point, a planned action in the near future, or actions that occur regularly and are a negative experience for the speaker.
Present progressive conjugation in English involves the conjugation of the present form of the verb to be, not the main verb, which remains the present participle form ending in -ing. Some present progressive tense examples of conjugation:
I am swimming I am dancing I am singing
You are swimming You are dancing You are singing
He is swimming He is dancing He is singing
We are swimming We are dancing We are singing
They are swimming They are dancing They are singing