Difficulties in the present continuous tense

People learning English as a second language have problems mastering the tenses. While the Present Perfect is challenging on a cognitive level, the Present Continuous is challenging in keeping them from being overused.

Asian learners, especially Indians, use this left-right-center tension.

I’m coming from the mall, sir, I’m going to meet this guy who asked for money yesterday.

It’s not difficult and it doesn’t take much time to understand tense, but it does take some practice, guided practice, to master it.

The primary use of this verb is to talk about what is happening at the time of speaking – that is the ‘now’ of the speaker.

I’m reading this article.

are you listening to me

It doesn’t move, does it?

The present continuous is also used to talk about an action taking place in these days or in the present.

what’s he doing?

He is writing a new novel.

where is my father? what’s he doing?

He’s in Canberra, attending a conference.

The above examples show that time is used for an action that you consider temporary. It is not a verb that happens every day, every time, we use the present simple.

I read books. It’s my hobby and it happens every time when I have time

I read books. now.

I’m reading Archer’s new book. in this time.

Unlike native speakers, speakers of English as a second language find it difficult to understand rarely used verbs in the present continuous even for verbs that occur now.

Do you see the bus over there?

talk IM listening.

I want money.

Do you understand me?

He doesn’t have any problems.

Verbs such as see and hear are involuntary. You can’t stop seeing if you keep your eyes open and you can’t stop the sounds coming into your always open ears. They are always open and not under your control.

The present continuous is only used with actions that are under your control. This is the case with verbs that denote a state rather than an action. Owns It denotes possession or relationship. She is talking about inaction. So sentence He doesn’t have any problems It is considered non-standard.

So next time you use the Present Continuous, pause and see if the sentence is correct. This tip is for learners of English as a second language.

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