Progressive Aspect: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know what the progressive aspect is? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on progressive tenses, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What is the progressive aspect?

According to Walden, there are many different forms of a verb in the English language:

  •   Bare infinitive tense
  •   Present perfect progressive tense/continuous tense
  •   Past perfect tense
  •   Perfect passive tense
  •   Conditional perfect tense
  •   Past progressive tense
  •   Subjunctive tense
  •   Perfect aspect 
  •   Gerund tense
  •   Present continuous tense
  •   Past perfect progressive tense
  •   Present perfect tense/present perfect form
  •   Present perfect continuous tense
  •   Future perfect tense
  •   Past progressive/continuous tense
  •   Present indicative tense
  •   Simple future tense
  •   Simple past tense
  •   Simple conditional tense
  •   Conditional perfect progressive tense
  •   Present progressive tense
  •   To-infinitive tense
  •   Future perfect progressive tense
  •   Conditional tense
  •   Future progressive tense
  •   Past participle tense
  •   Indicative tense
  •   Imperative tense
  •   Simple present tense
  •   Infinitive tense
  •   Conditional progressive tense
  •   Present participle tense

Different tenses, also known as the different aspects of a verb, are used to discuss actions in different periods of time or conditions throughout the flow of time. There are many types of grammatical aspects for English speakers, including imperfective aspects, the continuous aspect, the progressive form, the simple aspect/simple tenses, and more in contemporary English/modern English. This common tense distinction comes naturally to native American English and British English speakers, but new learners of English as a second language may struggle.

In this grammatical study, we will cover the aspect of a verb known as the progressive aspect. According to Your Dictionary, rogressive tenses, also known as continuous tenses, are a collective term to describe ongoing actions that are in progress. These are also called continuous forms which make use of the present participle in a verb phrase of activity verbs  with a form of the auxiliary form to be to show ongoing actions or habits.

What are examples of the progressive tense?

See if you can identify the progressive verb in the first example and second example from Your Dictionary!

  • He was waiting at home all day when she sent him the message.
  • While she was sleeping, someone took her phone.
  • The dark was giving a loud bark tonight when Tim walked by.
  • She was playing the piano while Ann was singing on stage.
  • We will not be driving spaceships in 3019.
  • Are you going?
  • I was making dinner when he arrived at my house this evening.
  • I was forever worrying if I would make the team.
  • Frances is talking on the phone at the moment.
  • Rose is reading a book.
  • I was making dinner when he arrived at my house this evening.
  • She was wondering if you could babysit after school today.
  • He is not standing.
  • Will Joanne be coming home for the holidays?
  • Will we be flying over the Atlantic soon?
  • The stocks are dropping constantly due to the economy.
  • They are eating lunch right now.
  • Marc is making pizza now.
  • I was having a terrifying dream when the alarm clock went off at six o’clock this morning.
  • We were wondering if she was able to meet us at noon.
  • He was going to pack a ham sandwich for lunch but he decided to make a peanut butter and jelly instead.
  • We are visiting the museum in the afternoon.
  • Today, most people are using text messages instead of the phone.
  • I was wondering how I did on my exam. The long forms of the questions were confusing. 
  • The kids are arriving at six o’clock.
  • You were asking what pronoun they used, but they would not answer the rest of your question. 
  • I was listening to my music, so I didn’t hear the phone ring.
  • By then, we will be practicing yoga every morning.
  • I was wondering if you could walk the dog for me this evening.
  • I was thinking of the progressive aspect of the ad from the 1980s.
  • In a year, he will be asking for forgiveness.
  • Will you be eating a plant-based diet in two months?
  • I am not going to the meeting after work.
  • We were sitting outside while the planes were flying overhead.
  • The guests are wondering if the grammarians will quiz them on their knowledge all night. The short questions are getting old.
  • Our neighbor was always telling us funny stories about his daughter.
  • I was wondering if you could open the door.
  • Anthony is sitting in the chair.
  • While we were playing tennis, it started to rain.
  • What were you doing when the alarm went off last night?
  • Were you calling me when I emailed you this afternoon?
  • I was listening to my music, so I didn’t hear the phone ring.
  • Is John playing football today?
  • The baby is sleeping in his crib.
  • I was trying to think of a spelling tip to help me remember the last letter at the end of a sentence for my exam.
  • She is crying.
  • I was not sleeping when you got home late last night.I was having a great conversation with him when his ex-girlfriend interrupted it.
  • She was always taking all my ideas.
  • In two months, I will be eating a plant-based diet.
  • I am going to slide you an e-mail tomorrow. 
  • I thought we were planning to go at the present time, but I now realize I misread the first part and second part of your message.
  • Her mother is forever misplacing her keys.
  • What was she doing this time yesterday?
  • Shopping online is growing in popularity nowadays.
  • I was having a great conversation with him when his ex-girlfriend interrupted it.
  • The amusement park will be increasing ticket prices later this year.
  • I was going to spend the afternoon at the mall but decided to stay home instead.
  • You are not watching the movie.
  • Is she laughing?
  • He is talking to his friend.
  • The native speakers were thinking about how the rest of the sentence was formed. 
  • Are they listening to the teacher?
  • In an hour, we will be flying over the Atlantic.
  • We are leaving for the beach tomorrow morning.
  • By 3019, we will be driving spaceships.

Overall, the progressive aspect describes continuous action.


  1. Verb Forms: “-ing,” Infinitives, and Past Participles – Grammar – Academic Guides | Walden University 
  2. Future Progressive | Your Dictionary
  3. Present Continuous Tense Examples | Your Dictionary 
  4. Past Continuous | Your Dictionary