Are You Lovin’ it? How to Use the Present Continuous
Posted on February 16, 2016
Something that learners of English often have difficulty with is when to use the present continuous, also called the present progressive.
You know the McDonald’s slogan: “I’m lovin’ it”. I wonder if McDonald’s could ever have predicted that their global influence would have caused so many learners of English to be confused by the present continuous. Except for McDonald’s adverts and people who have adopted this slogan into everyday life, we don’t use a “state” or “stative” verb with the present continuous. So when we use the present continuous in standard English, it’s “I love it”.
The way I explain it is that if you always do something, it’s a state. You can’t say you are doing it right now because it happens all the time. Here are some common “state” verbs:
Below we have examples of these state verbs in sentences:
- I love it when a project goes well
- She likes praising her staff
- We hate ongoing conflict
- We believe in treating everyone as equals
The state verbs happen all the time even if we are asleep or doing something completely different. For example “I love it when a project goes well”. This is part of a description of me rather than my actions. If I am on the phone and totally absorbed in what I’m doing, I still love it when a project goes well. When I’m asleep, I still, as part of my personality, love it when a project goes well.
The other type of verb is “action” verbs. Here, you can imagine the person doing something rather than just existing.
- I walk to work
- He gave me a report on his findings
- Be sure to finish it before Friday
You can use these action verbs in the present continuous tense too if appropriate:
- I’m walking to work
- Next week he’s giving me a report on his findings
- I’m just finishing that report now
Find a longer list of state verbs, a video and exercises on state verbs and the present continuous here.