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The paradigm of the verb in the present continuous

Affirmative Interrogative Negative
  I am speaking He (she, it) is speaking We are speaking You are speaking They are speaking   Am I speaking? Is he (she, it) speaking? Are we speaking? Are you speaking? Are they speaking?   I am not (I’m not) speaking He (she, it) is not (isn’t) speaking We are not (aren’t) speaking You are not (aren’t) speaking They are not (aren’t) speaking


a) Am I not speaking? Is he (she, it) not speaking? Are we not speaking? Are you not speaking? Are they not speaking? b) Aren’t I speaking? Isn’t he (she, it) speaking? Aren’t we speaking? Aren’t you speaking? Aren’t they speaking?

In spoken English contractions are commonly used (I’m, he’s, it’s, we’re, etc.).

A reduced negative for the first person singular is I’m not, but is replaced by aren’t in the negative - interrogative.


§ 22. The present continuous is used with all actional and some statal verbs (with the reservations destribed below):


1. To denote continuous actions going on at the moment of speaking.


Look, how happily they are playing!

Don’t bother him, he’s working.

Listen! The telephone is ringing. Go and answer it.

- Can I see Mary? - You must wait a little while, she is having breakfast.


The present indefinite, not the present continuous, is used to denote actions which though going on at the moment of speaking, are important as simple facts, rather than as actions in progress.


Why don’t you answer?

Why don’t you write? Where is your pen?

Stop talking! Why don’t you listen?


If two simultaneous actions are in progress at the moment of speaking, three variants are possible:


a) one action is expressed by the verb in the present indefinite, the other - by the present continuous:


Do you hear what I am saying!


b) both the actions are expressed by verbs in the present continuous:


Are you listening to what I am saying?

At home he is always sleeping while I am doing chores.


c) both the actions are expressed by verbs in the present indefinite:


Several students watch carefully while he writes it on the board.


The use of the present indefinite instead of the present continuous is due to the semantic peculiarities of the verb.


The present continuous is not generally used with some verbs - the verbs of sense perception, of mental or emotional state and with relational verbs. Still exceptions may occur with these verbs too.

With the verbs of sense perception the use of the tense form is closely connected with what kind of perception is meant - voluntary (deliberate) or involuntary. In case these verbs denote a voluntary action: to listen (слушать), to look (смотреть) or if they may denote both an involuntary and a voluntary action, such as: to feel (ощупывать), to smell (нюхать), to taste (пробовать на вкус), they can occur in continuous forms.


Voluntary actions Involuntary actions
  Why are you not listening? Why are you looking at me like that? The man must be blind, he is feeling his way with a stick.   Say it again, I don’t hear you. Can you see me now? Take care! I feel the walls shaking.


In the same way verbs of mental and emotional states can acquire a different meaning and occur in the present continuous and other continu­ous forms.


I consider (=believe) her to be a very good student. I think (suppose) you are right. I’m still considering (studying) all the pros and cons. I’mthinking over (studying) your offer.


In some cases it is not so much a change of meaning as a change in the quality or intensity of the idea expressed by the verb that makes it possible to use the continuous form.


I am forgetting things more and more now.

She is understanding grammar better now.

Don’t shout, I'm hearing you perfectly well.

What are you seeling there in this complete darkness.

You see, she is knowing too mucht.

All this time I'm hating them.

I am feeling quite all right.


The relational verbs (belong, cost, etc.) are not used in the continu­ous form.


2.To denote actions characteristic of a certain period of present time, the moment of speaking

included.As a rule these actions are temporary.


They are spending their holidays at the sea-side this summer.

Your behaviour is killing your wife.

It is autumn now. The birds are flocking together.


3. To denote (for the sake of emphasis) actions in progress referring to all or any time, the moment of

speaking included. In this case the adverbials ever, for ever, constantly, always are obligatory.


Our solar system together with the Milky Way is constantly moving towards Vega.

The Volga is for ever pouring its waters into the Caspian Sea.

Mankind is always developing its mental faculties.


4. To denoteactions characteristic of a certain person within more or less long periods of present time,

the moment of speaking included and provoking certain emotions in the speaker (inpatience,

irritation, disapproval, praise, etc.). Sentences with such forms are always emotionally coloured.


Oh, I have no patience with you. Why are you always losing your things?

Though she is only ten, she is very kind-hearted, she is always pitying everybody.


In such sentences the adverbials always or constantly are also obligatory.


5. To denote future actions.


a) With verbs of motion to arrive, to come, to go, to leave, to return, to sail, to start and some others, usually

the actions are only intended or planned. The future time is usually indicated by some adverbials:


She is leaving tomorrow.

The boat is sailing next week.

He is returning on Monday.

What are you doing tomorrow?


Though the present continuous of the verb to go + infinitive is commonly used to denote an intention or plan, with some verbs the meaning is that of apprehention or presentiment.


He’s going to get ill.

The flowers are going to wither.

It is going to snow.

He’s going to be hanged.


b) In adverbial clauses of time and condition after the conjunctions when, while, as long as, if, in case,

unless, etc:


I’ll ring you up at 2, while you are having your break.

If he is working when I come, don’t bother him, I’ll wait.


As follows from the items enumerated above, the present continuous cannot occur in the context describing a succession of actions referring to the present. In such cases the present indefinite is used:


He comes up to the piano, opens the lid, and begins to play the first tune.


If several actions in a narrative have the form of the present continuous, it indicates that they are all simultaneous (and usually performed by different persons):


The boys are playing football on the lawn, Nell is reading in her room, and Father is having his rest.


In all its uses the present continuous is rendered in Russian by means of the present tense of the imperfective aspect.


The present perfect


§ 23. Meaning. The present perfect form denotes the action preceding the moment of speaking, though it is connected with it either directly or indirectly, that is: a) it continues up to the moment of speaking or b) takes place within a period of time before and including the moment of speaking, so it is relevant to the moment of speaking through its effect or virtually through its continuation at the moment of speaking. In the first case it is called the exclusive present perfect (the moment of speaking is excluded), in the second - the inclusive present perfect (the moment of speaking is included).

Formation. The present perfect is formed analytically, by means of the auxiliary to have in the present indefinite and participle II of the notional verb.*

* For the rules of the formation of participle II see § 5-6.


In the negative the corresponding negative forms of to have are used, participle II follows them.


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