§ 11.The Present Continuous is an analytical form which is built up by means of the auxiliary verb tobe in the Present Indefi- nite and the ing-form of the notional verb (e.g. I am working. He is working, etc.). The same auxiliary is used in the interrogative and the negative form (e.g. Are you working? Is he working? We are not working. He is not working, etc.). In spoken English the contracted forms I'ò, he's and we're should be used in affirma tive sentences and isn't and aren't in negative sentences.
The ing-form, is built up by adding the suffix -ing to the stem of the verb (e.g. speak — speaking).
In writing the following spelling rules should be observed:
a) A mute -e at the end of the verb is dropped before the suffix -ing (e.g. close — closing, make — making).
b) A final consonant is doubled if it is preceded by a short stressed vowel or if a verb ends in a stressed -er (-ur) (e.g. cut — cutting, begin — beginning, prefer — preferring, occur — occur- ring),
c) A final -I is always doubled in British English (e.g. travel — travelling, quarrel — quarrelling).
d) A final -y is preserved no matter what sound it is preceded by (e.g. study — studying, stay — staying).
e) A final ie changes into -y (e.g. tie — tying, lie — lying).
§ 12. The Present Continuous is used with dynamic verbs in
the following cases:
1) To express an action going on at the present moment, i.e. the moment of speaking.
The precise time limits of the action are not known, its begin- ning and its end are not specified. The indication of time is not necessary in this case though occasionally such adverbial modifiers as now and at present are found.
e.g. "Do you know where Philip is?" "I expect he istalking to
I asked: "Is anything new happening?" "Oh, hullo," he said. "Do you want to see me?" "No, thanks.
I'm looking for my father."
Tears flowed slowly down her cheeks. "What are you crying
"Oh, mummy! The eggs are burning!The coffee is boiling over! Where is the large tray? Where do you keep things?" cried Adeline.
2) To express an action going on atthe present period.In this case the precise time limits of the action are not known either. Be- sides, the action may or may not be going on at the actual moment of speaking. As in the previous case, indications of time are not necessary here either.
e.g. But you've not been in England much lately. Public opinion
is changing. I must tell you about it. "And what are you doing in Geneva?" "I'm writing a play,"
said Ashenden. The great detective has retired from business. He is growing
roses in a little cottage in Dorking. I stay indoors most of the time. I'm catching up with my
studies. They're getting ready to move to their new house.
Sometimes this Present Continuous shows that for the time be- ing a certain action happens to be the most important and charac- teristic occupation for its doer (for this see the last four examples above).
Note. Notice the phrase to be busy doing something. It is synonymous in meaning with the Present Continuous in the first and second cases of its use. The phrase is very common in English.
e.g. Father is busy cutting the grass in the garden. Nigel is busy getting himself into Parliament.
3) To express actions generally characterizing the person de- noted by the subject, bringing out the person's typical traits. Of- ten the adverbial modifiers always and constantly are found in these sentences, e.g. People are always blaming their circumstances for what they
are. "You're always showing off," she said to her brother in a loud
whisper. Her husband retorted: "You're constantly complaining that you
have too much to do."
The Present Continuous in this case imparts a subjective, emo- tionally coloured tone. When no emotional colouring is implied, the Present Indefinite is used to give an objective characteristic (see "Verbs", § 10, b).
Cf.: Old uncle Harry is always thinking he's going to be ruined. You people always think I've a bag of money.
Note. Note the following sentence patterns, in which recurrent actions are made emotionally coloured by the use of the Present Continuous.
e.g- I wonder if all grown-up people play in that childish way when nobody is looking? When Adeline is grinning we know she is happy. When I see him he is always eating something.
4) To express actions which will take place in the near future due to one's previous decision. For that reason the action is re- garded as something definitely settled. We usually find an indica- tion of future time in this case (see also "Verbs", § 47).
e.g. "I am sailing early next month," he said. Are you dining out tonight?
He is having a meeting with the men this afternoon. "I'm staying the night at Green Street," said Val.
§ 13. As has been said above, the Present Continuous is used with dynamic verbs. However, some stative verbs (see "Verbs", § 2, 2) when they change their meaning can be used in the Continuous form.
e.g. "Are you seeing Clare tonight?" she asked. He said, "I'm seeing you home."
"Are you going in the water?" Sybil said. "I'm seriously con- sidering it."
Jane turned away. "The thing to do," she said, "is to pay no attention to him. He is just being silly."
Note. Notice that in cases like those above the verb to be is close to to behave in meaning.
Special attention should be paid to the verb to have which in its original meaning 'to possess' does not admit of the continuous form.
e.g. Suddenly he came in and said: "Have you a letter for me,
But with a change of its meaning, the use of the continuous form becomes the rule if it is required by the sense. Namely, it oc- curs when to have is part of set phrases, as in: to have a bath, to have a good holiday, to have a party, to have a smoke, to have a walk, to have coffee, to have dinner, to have something done, to have to do something, to have trouble and the like.
e.g. "Where is Mr Franklin?" he asked. "He's having a bath. He'll be right out."
I know you are havingyour difficulties.
My village will be as pretty as a picture. Trees along the street. You see, I'm havingthem planted already.
Some of the other verbs included in the list of stative verbs may also be occasionally used in the continuous form. Then the ac- tions indicated by these verbs express great intensity of feeling.
e.g. "You'll find it a great change to live in New York." "At the
present time I'm hatingit," she said in an expressionless
tone. "Strange," he said, "how, when people are either very young
or very old, they arealways wantingto do something they
should not do." Dear Amy, I've settled in now and I am likingmy new life very
§ 14. Some durative verbs, for example, verbs of bodily sensa- tion (to ache, to feel, to hurt, to itch, etc.) and such verbs as to wear, to look (= to seem), to shine and some other can be used ei- ther in the Present Indefinite or in the Present Continuous with little difference in meaning.
Cf. You're looking well, cousin Joan. You lookquite happy today.
"I know what you arefeeling, Roy," she said. "We all feelex- actly the same."