Present and Past Progressive Tenses

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By Rosie Huckle

According to the National Curriculum (July 2014), Year 2 pupils should be able to use the present tense and the past tense of verbs appropriately and consistently throughout their writing. They should also now be introduced to the concept of verbs in their progressive form, whether that is in the present or the past tense, in order to describe an activity that is ongoing.

NB Because the activity being described by the verb in its progressive form is ongoing, it is sometimes also called the ‘continuous’ form of the verb.

The present progressive tense

A verb in the progressive is formed by adding the present participle of the verb (which ends in –ing) to the relevant form of the verb ‘to be’. Examples in the present progressive tense would be ‘I am dancing’, ‘he is dancing’ or ‘they are dancing’. Here, dancing is the participle and I am, he is and they are come from the verb ‘to be’.

The present progressive can be used to suggest that an action is going to happen in the future, especially with verbs that convey the idea of a plan, for example: ‘She is going to be a scientist when she grows up’.

Because the present progressive can suggest either the present or the future, it is often used with time connectives: ‘This summer, we are visiting our cousins in America.’


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