Making Progress with Grammar: Forming Progressive Verb Tenses

Contributor: Allison Crews. Lesson ID: 13727

There is more to tense than simply past, present, and future. You will be learning about progressive tenses in this lesson!


Grammar, Writing

English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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verb tenses

  • Do you know what these are called?

If you said tenses, you're correct. But there's a little more. These tell at what time the verb occurred, but there are aspects to verbs as well.

You already know one because it's the focus of this lesson:


There is also simple, perfect, and perfect progressive. These aspects add a little more information to the verb in a sentence.

To find out what the progressive aspect adds, read on!

The progressive aspects indicate an action that isn't finished.

The tenses with this aspect are:

past progressive - the action happened in the past, but it is ongoing

present progressive - the action is occurring at the present and continues on

future progressive - the action will happen in the future and will be ongoing

Here are some examples:

past progressive

  • The children were sleeping.

In this sentence, the children were sleeping at a previous moment; however, the sleeping has not yet concluded. Since there is also not a determined time when the sleeping will end in the sentence, past progressive is used.

 present progressive - the action is occurring at the present and continues on

  • I'm living in Manhattan.

Think about this sentence versus "I live in Manhattan." They each give a different impression, don't they?

The example above implies that this is not a permanent situation, but rather one that is happening temporarily. It is ongoing until the speaker no longer lives in Manhattan, so progressive present is used.

future progressive - the action will happen in the future and will be ongoing

  • He will be meeting with the bank manager in an hour.

The meeting in question is planned for the near future, but it has not occurred yet. Because he hasn't attended the meeting yet, the state of "will be going" is ongoing until the meeting time has past. This is indicated by the use of future progressive.

How Do You Form Progressive Tense?

Take a look at these diagrams:

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You may have noted that the formation of the progressive tense includes a form of the helping verb to be + a present participle (-ing verb).

past progressive

was / were + present participle

present progressive

is / are + present participle

future progressive

will be + present participle


Form the third-person singular past, present, and future progressive of the following verbs:

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  • Got it so far?


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