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Continuous/Progressive Tenses- Revision/Overview


Legacy Member
Jun 9, 2020
This is a revision lesson, although it can be used as an introduction to the Present Continuous, Past Continuous and Future Continuous Tenses. The assumption is that students are already familiar with the Present Continuous, although the lesson revises this. The lesson also introduces vocabulary used to describe leisure activities.

Learning ObjectiveBuild fluency and confidence in spoken English.

Become more accurate using continuous/progressive forms.

Understand the concept of the continuous/progressive describing an action in progress at a particular time.

Learn expressions- collocations and phrasal verbs to describe leisure.

Success CriteriaStudents will have achieved the above and will only be making a small number of functional errors.

Will understand the concept behind continuous/progressive tenses and make fewer typical errors, e.g. 'I am understanding this lesson'. Or 'I was shopping yesterday'.
CEFR LinksCan understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

Lead in / Warm Up / Introduction (90 minutes )
Lead-in/Warm-up/Introduction (20 mins)

  • Write the infinite form of the verbs from the mime sheet on the board, e.g. 'Ski.'
  • Concept check that students understand the vocabulary.
  • Write the following on the board:

    [TD valign="top"]
    • I am

  • [TD valign="top"] + …ing [/TD]

    [TD valign="top"]
    • You are

    [TD valign="top"]
    • We are

    [TD valign="top"]
    • They are

    [TD valign="top"]
    • She is

    [TD valign="top"]
    • He is

    [TD valign="top"]
    • It is
  • Mime some simple actions (e.g. playing tennis) and ask what am I doing? students will probably give short answers- 'playing tennis', in which case, draw their attention to the board.
  • Give students a mime sheet and ask them to mime one of the actions for the class.
  • The class guesses. At the same time, the teacher corrects any errors students make.

Presentation / Teacher Model (20 minutes )
Presentation 1 (20 mins)

  • Refer to the table written on the board and elicit the negative form (verb 'be' + n't) and the question forms.
  • Depending on students level, create a table similar to the one below.

[TD valign="top"]
  • + … ing
  • playing

[TD valign="top"] Negative
  • + n't + … ing
  • n't playing
[TD valign="top"] Question
  • + …. ing?
  • playing?

[TD valign="top"]
  • I am
[TD valign="top"]
  • Am I

[TD valign="top"]
  • You are
[TD valign="top"]
  • Are you

[TD valign="top"]
  • We are
[TD valign="top"]
  • Are we

[TD valign="top"]
  • They are
[TD valign="top"]
  • Are they

[TD valign="top"]
  • She is
[TD valign="top"]
  • Is She

[TD valign="top"]
  • He is
[TD valign="top"]
  • Is he

[TD valign="top"]
  • It is
[TD valign="top"]
  • Is it
  • Explain that the continuous/progressive tenses are formed with:
    'be + verb + ing
  • Some verbs are not used in the continuous/progressive forms. See the grammar supplement.
  • Give students copies of the picture, and a ask them to write five sentences about the picture,
    e.g. The woman is riding a scooter.

  • When they have finished, ask students to compare what they have written and correct any errors- The most common error at this stage is to drop the verb 'be' from the sentence.
  • Write on the board '11.00 yesterday morning.'
  • Ask students to describe the actions as if they were 11.00 yesterday morning, e.g.
    The woman was riding a scooter at 11.00 yesterday morning.

  • Ask students to describe the actions as if they were 11.00 tomorrow morning, e.g.
    The woman will be riding a scooter at 11.00 tomorrow morning.
ℹ Tell students that it is important that they include the time phrase.
  • Elicit that we use: is/am/are + …ing for the present and for future plans
  • was/were + …ing for the past.
  • Will be + …ing for the future.

Main Activity (50 mins)
Controlled/Scaffolded Practice (30 mins)
  • Give students the Activity sheets and elicit the questions they need to use (see sheet for an example).
  • Tell the students to mingle and to ask back up questions.
  • When they have finish students work in small groups and report what the information they discovered.
Free practice (20 mins) Game- Where am I?
  • Working in small groups, one student uses the Present Simple and Present Continuous/Progressive to describe where they are. The other students try to guess the place. Example:
I'm sitting by an enormous triangular building. The weather is hot. Around me, people are riding camels. I'm sitting by a river which is one of the longest in the world.

Answer: I am in Egypt.
  • After 5 minutes change the activity time to 'Last year I was…' and 'Next year I will be…'.

Extension Task
  • If students have finished or if there is time left, use the above activity and change to: What am I doing? Or Who am I speaking to?

Plenary / Assessment ( 10 minutes )
  • Working in pairs, students have 10 minutes (using Present Simple or Present Continuous/Progressive) to find 12 differences in the pictures by asking their partner about their picture,
    e.g. Is there a cat in your picture? Is the cat playing with a ball?

Problems that might occurWhat I will do
Students may overuse continuous/progressive form and substitute that for simpleRemind students of the differences. Error correct all mistakes.
Students may use continuous/progressive forms without a reference to a particular point in time i.e. 'I was shopping yesterday'Concept check during the presentation stage and error correct all mistakes.

Resources and materials
e.g. Pencil, pen, worksheet, whiteboard, activity cards. https://edchat.net/attachments/activity-cards-pdf.146806/

Verbs not used in the Present Progressive

There are verbs that we do not normally use with continuous tenses. These talk about states, not actions.

Here are some common non-continuous verbs:
  • Feelings: hate, like, love, prefer, want, wish
  • Senses: appear, feel, hear, see, seem, smell, sound, taste
  • Communication: agree, deny, disagree, mean, promise, satisfy, surprise
  • Thinking: believe, imagine, know, mean, realize, recognize, remember, understand
  • Other states: be, belong, concern, depend, involve, matter, need, owe, own, possess


In English, there are usually exceptions to the rule, and many phrases use 'state' verbs which changes the meaning.

For example, I'm seeing her tomorrow. Means: I am meeting her tomorrow.

The Present progressive is often used with 'always' to give the idea of a repeated action, which the speaker probably does not like.

Example: You're always promising my things that you never do.

Continuous/Progressive Tenses

We use these for actions which are happening as we speak, or which are happening currently (Present) or for a given time or point in the past or future.
  • Referring to actions in progress, e.g. I can't speak to you now because I am driving.
  • Referring to actions which are happening currently, e.g. I am watching an excellent series on Netflix. Episode two was great!
  • Talking about a temporary situation, e.g. I'm living in a shared flat while I'm at university.
  • A future plan, usually something we intend to do, e.g. I am going to clean my car tomorrow.

Base Form: be + infinitive + ing

I am/was/will be + infinitive + ing Example: I'm playing tennis.

You/we/they are/were/will be + infinitive + ing Example: I'm playing tennis.

She/he/it is/was/will be + infinitive + ing Example: I'm playing tennis.

Negative form

With negatives we use be + not/n't + infinitive + ing

I am/wasnot/will not be + infinitive + ing Example: I'm not playing tennis.

You/we/they are not/were not/will not be + infinitive + ing Example: You're not playing tennis.

She/he/it is not /was not/will not be + infinitive + ing Example: She's not playing tennis.

Question form

With questions be and the subject are inverted.

Am/Was/Will + I + infinitive + ing Example: Am I playing tennis?

Are/Were/Will + you/we/they + infinitive + ing Example: Are you playing tennis?

Is/Was/Will + she/he/it + infinitive + ing Example: Is he playing tennis?

For open questions (those starting with 'wh…'), we use the same structure we just add the question word.

Example: When am I playing tennis?

Example: When are we playing tennis?

Example: When is she playing tennis?

Present Progressive for the Future

To talk about future plans, we use the present progressive and add a time word/phrase.

Example: I'm playing tennis tomorrow at two o'clock.

Worksheet Previews
Activity Cards
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