English Grammar - Elementary

Present Continuous Structure

The present continuous is easy to form. We use the verb "to be" plus the verb in the ____ing form.

For example:

He is swimming in the river.
They are talking about their holiday.

Here is the verb talk conjugated in the present continuous.

Present Continuous
Positive Negative Question
I am talking
You are talking
He is talking
She is talking
It is talking
We are talking
You are talking
They are talking
I'm not talking
You're not talking
He isn't talking
She isn't talking
It isn't talking
We aren't talking
You aren't talking
They aren't talking
Am I talking?
Are you talking?
Is he talking?
Is she talking?
Is it talking?
Are we talking?
Are you talking?
Are they talking?

Note. There are certain spelling changes when verb are put into the continuous form:

Consonants after a vowel are doubled.

get - getting
swim - swimming

Final "e" is dropped.

love - loving
type - typing

Exceptions to these two rules.

A word of more than one syllable with the first syllable stressed does not double the consonant.

visit - visited    NOT doubled as first syllable is stressed.
prefer - preferred    IS doubled as second syllable is stressed.

be - being    final "e" is NOT dropped.

Present Continuous Use

The Present Continuous is used to describe an action that is going on at this moment, at the time of speaking.

You are using your computer to study the internet.
You are sitting on a chair at the moment.

It is also used to describe an action that is going on during this period of time but not necessarily at this exact moment.

I am reading a good book about Polish mushrooms.
She is doing a course in flower arranging at the local arts centre.

We can use the Present Continuous to describe an action or event in the future, which has already been planned or prepared. You should see here for more information on that on this page.

We can use this tense also to describe a temporary event or situation.

He usually goes to work by bus but this week, he is using the train because there is a strike on the buses.
I am living at my sister's for a month until she has her baby.

Many verbs aren't used in the continuous form

I don't understand what you mean.
NOT I am not understanding....

Verbs like this include: feel, hear, see, smell, taste, believe, consider, doubt, forget, imagine, know, mean, notice, recognise, remember and understand.

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Comparatives and Superlatives

We use comparative and superlative adjectives when we want to compare and contrast things.


a) India is a big country.
b) Canada is bigger than India.
c) Russia is the biggest country in the world.

Sentence a) uses the base adjective, sentence b) uses the comparative and sentence c) uses the superlative.

Here is how we form these adjectives:


For Short Adjectives Adjectives Ending "__y" For Long Adjectives
Add '-er'
Add '-ier'
More/Less ____
More beautiful
Less interesting
More intelligent

Superlative Adjectives

For Short Adjectives Adjectives Ending "__y" For Long Adjectives
Add 'The -est'
The biggest
The longest
The fastest
Add 'The -iest'
The heaviest
The prettiest
The easiest
The Most/Least ____
The most beautiful
The least interesting
The most intelligent


Madrid is bigger than Lisbon but London is the biggest city in Europe.
Your exam was easier than mine. You are always luckier than me!

There are some irregulars:

Good - Better - The Best
Bad - Worse - The Worst
Far - Further - The Furthest

Tina Turner is not the best singer in the world.
But I am worse than her!

We use "as ____ as" to describe things which are equal:

Rome is as hot as Madrid in August.
I am not paid as much as John as he is more experienced.
She ran as far as possible and then stopped.

We can use other expressions before these adjectives to give emphasis.

She is much taller than her husband.
We spent a bit more than expected.
Julia Roberts is fifty times prettier than my sister.
Los Angeles is quite a lot more polluted than San Francisco
etc, etc.

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