Following many requests for help, Grammar Puss has decided to start a new blog for parents. Grammar Puss for parents

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Present progressive and past progressive verb forms

Progressive forms of verbs (sometimes referred to as ‘continuous’ forms) are used to indicate continuation of an action or state of being.

The present progressive shows that the action or state of being is continuing at the present time, e.g. He is runningshe is getting stronger.

The past progressive shows that the action or state of being was continuing at the time being referred to, e.g. He was crossing the bridgeshe was feeling sad.

Progressive forms are constructed by using a form of the verb ‘be’ + the present participle of a verb, which ends in –ing. 

The present progressive is detailed below, giving some examples of use with proper nouns (names), common nouns (the robot/the children) and pronouns:
  • I am writing
  • Jack/he is writing
  • Amy/she is writing
  • The robot/it is writing
  • You are writing
  • We are writing
  • The children/they are writing
You can see that the form of the verb ‘be’ is different for ‘I’ (am), ‘he/she/it’ (is) and ‘you/we/they’ (are) so, when using the present progressive, children need to choose the correct form of ‘be’ to match the person or pronoun.

The past progressive is formed using the past tense of the verb ‘be’:
  • I was writing
  • Jack/he was writing
  • Amy/she was writing
  • The robot/it was writing
  • You were writing
  • We were writing
  • The children/they were writing
With this form of the progressive, only ‘was’ and ‘were’ are used.

If we just write the present participle (-ing verb) in a sentence, we cannot tell whether the action is in the past or the present and the sense will not be complete, so it is the verb ‘be’ (am/is/are/was/were) that indicates whether we are writing in the past or present.

The dragon flying.  (doesn’t make full sense; we cannot say present or past tense)
The dragon is flying. (present tense) 
The dragon was flying. (past tense)

To use Standard English, children need to match the correct form of ‘be’ to the pronoun, so it is important to know when to use am, is, are, was, were.  

I have developed a ‘Happy Families’ game (link below) for my Grammar Puss for Parents blog.  This game helps children get used to the different forms of ‘be’ and how they should be used to make the present and past progressive.  The verbs are all used in the context of a sentence.  

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