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What's the Difference between PROGRESSIVE and CONTINUOUS tenses?

by Insights to English | 07 Aug 2018
Resource Description:

In English, we use 'Progressive' and 'Continuous' interchangeably.  But did you know that in general linguistics, there is a slight difference?  The two are very similar, but it's helpful to know what those differences are.

Check out this video for more on Progressive/Continuous tenses.

Audience: Teacher Training
Audience Language Proficiency: Advanced, Intermediate
Teaching Tip:

Whether it's past, present, or future tense, English teachers use the terms 'Progressive' and 'Continuous' interchangeably - typically just going with whichever one their current resources use.  But there is a slight difference, and it's helpful to know what that is.

'Progressive' means the verb is in progress at the moment.  We often use progressive and simple together when a longer action is interrupted by a shorter action.

'Continuous' means the verb is ongoing and sometimes is used for more descriptive purposes.  Perhaps it's something true around that time, but it may not be active in the moment.

The two are very similar and overlap in many cases, but it's still helpful for students to know that both uses are common with the be [verb]ing form.  Check out this video for examples and more details.

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TESOL Interest Section: Teacher Education