ESL for Beginners Present Continuous Tense an Being Verbs

English Language Learners

This is a lesson for beginning ESL students who are looking for a website that has audio as well as written instructions. If the feedback is positive, I will gladly post more lessons.

The Problem of Present Continuous Tense

Learning to speak English can be a difficult task especially understanding when to use the correct verb tense. The being verb and linking verb tenses seem to give ESL student the most problems. For an ESL student understanding how and when to use the correct verb tense can be very frustrating. As an ESL teacher, I am constantly working with my students to make sure they use the correct verb tense when speaking.

Here are some examples of the phrases my students use constantly but incorrectly:

Incorrect Correct

“I working.” “I am working.”

“I do my work.” “I am doing my work”

“I at guidance.” “I was in the guidance office .”

The first thing to learn about verb tenses are the types of tenses and if you are talking in the 1st person, 2nd person, or 3rd person. The three basic verb tenses are past, present and future tense. In this lesson we will look at the present continuous tense using the being verbs; am, are, is.

What is Present Continuous Tense?

The chart below will help you sort out the present continuous tense being verbs.

Present Continuous tense means the action is happening in the present and it has not stopped

Whentalking in thefirst person, you must use the being verb am.

When you are talking to someone use the being verb are.

When talking about a third person use the being verb is.

The personal pronouns you always use with these being verbs no matter what the tense are highlighted in bold:

1st person 2nd person

I am you are

We are

They are

3rd person

Heis, She is. It is, Jim is, Jane is, or any proper or common noun

1st person

The following sentence shows the first person talking about them self.

I am sick today. I am not coming in to work today.

We used the first person pronoun I, so we have to use the being verb am.

2nd person

The following sentence shows the first person talking to a second person.

Jim , you are sick? You better stay home from work today.

When we uses the second person pronoun you, the being verb are must be used.

3rd person

The following sentence shows the first person talking to the second person about a third person.

Jim is sick today. He is going to stay home.

Notice the third person and third person pronouns used were Jim and he. This means we have to use the being verb is.

Vocabulary Words

In the following scenario we will use the present continuous tense being verbs am, are, is.

Remember present continuous tense means the action is happening in the present and the action has not stopped.

Primary Vocabulary Words: being verbs

am (Being verb 1st person present continuous tense ); are (being verb 2nd person present continuous tense); Is (being verb 3rd person present continuous tense)

Secondary Vocabulary words: Use the link above for the definitions and pronunciation of these words. I have done the first word for you.

Presentation, Client, anxious, finishing touches, worrier

Role Play Dialogue

Here is the scene: John and Jill are in the office discussing a presentation Jill is preparing for a client. John is worried that the presentation is not ready. Jill reassures John that the presentation is ready. The client and presentation are referred to in the third person. Nouns and pronouns are in in Italic type and the verbs are in Boldface type. Click on the link to the side to hear the audio of this role play.

Exchange 1

  1. (John) Jill is thepresentationready for our meeting?
  2. (Jill) Yes, it is. The client is going to be very pleased with it.

Exchange 2

  1. (John) Are you sure you have all the information the client wants in the presentation?
  2. (Jill) Don’t worry, the presentation is perfect.

Exchange 3

  1. (John) Ok, the client is anxious to close the deal today.
  2. (Jill) Everything is ready. I am just putting the finishing touches on the presentation.

Exchange 4

  1. (John) You are sure the presentation is perfect?
  2. (Jill) John, you are such a worrier. The presentation is perfect.

Exchange 5

  1. (John) Are we ready to go?
  2. (Jill) The presentation is done. Let’s go.


In exchange number 1 A. Jill is being asked about the presentation. Since John is speaking to Jill about a third person, in this case the presentation which is a noun, the being verb IS must be used.

In exchange number 1 B Jill responses to John’s question again talking about a third person. This time referring to the presentation by the pronoun IT and also referring to the client which is another third person reference.

In exchanges 2-5, do you see why those particular being verbs were used? Post your answers in the comment section below. I will do my best to check all answers once or twice a week.

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