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Progressive Verb Tenses: Past, Present, and Future

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Progressive Verb Tenses: Past, Present, and Future
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.4.1.B

Basics on the topic Progressive Verb Tenses: Past, Present, and Future

Progressive Verb Tenses – Introduction

Verbs are action words that help us describe what a person or object is doing. Some examples of verbs are: fly, close, explain, pass. Verb tenses help us show that actions happen in the past, present, or future.

Progressive Verb Tenses – Definition

Progressive verb tenses describe ongoing actions. They show an action that is, was, or will be happening at some point in time. Progressive verb tense uses a helping verb to be and the main verb of the action that ends with -ing.

For example:

Noun Helping verb
“to be”
Main verb ending
with “-ing”
The girl is smiling.
The car was coming.
Friends will be dancing.

Progressive Verb Tenses – Present

When the action happens in the present tense, we use helping verbs am, is, or are.

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We use the helping verb am with the pronoun I, the helping verb is with pronouns he, she, it, and the helping verb are with pronouns we, you, they. For example:

I am preparing for a math test.

He is preparing for a math test.

We are preparing for a math test.

In the sentences above, preparing is the main verb, or action, and am, is, and are are the helping verb forms of to be. The present progressive verb tense am / is / are preparing tells us this is an ongoing action and it is happening now – in the present tense.

Progressive Verb Tenses – Past

When the action happened in the past, we use helping verbs was or were.

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We use the helping verb was with the pronouns I, he, she, and it, and the helping verb were with pronouns we, you, they. For example:

I was jogging early in the morning.

She was jogging early in the morning.

They were jogging early in the morning.

In the sentences above, jogging is the main verb, or action, and was and were are our helping verb forms of the verb to be. The past progressive verb tense was / were jogging tells us this ongoing action already happened and is in the past tense.

Progressive Verb Tenses – Future

When the action will happen in the future, we use helping verb will be.

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We use the helping verb will be with all pronouns. For example:

I will be swimming in the river.

It will be swimming in the river.

You will be swimming in the river.

In the sentences above, swimming is the main verb, or action, and will be is the helping verb form of the verb to be. The future progressive verb tense will be swimming tells us this ongoing action is going to happen in the future.

Additional Information about Verb Tenses

Progressive Verb Tenses – Summary

Let’s review what we have learned about progressive tenses.

Verb tenses show that actions happen in the past, present, or future. Progressive verb tenses describe ongoing actions. They show an action that is, was, or will be happening at some point in time.

Progressive verb tense uses a helping verb to be and the main verb that ends with -ing. When the action happens in the present, we use helping verbs am, is, or are. When the action happened in the past, we use helping verbs was or were. When the action will happen in the future, we use helping verb will be.

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Now you know everything about progressive verb tenses! For more practice, download our worksheets, and watch our interactive video!

Frequently Asked Questions about Progressive Verb Tenses

What is a progressive verb tense definition?
What are some present, past, and future progressive verb tense examples?
How many verb tenses are there?

Transcript Progressive Verb Tenses: Past, Present, and Future

"What an incredible experience we are having!" "We need to share this on our sofagram account!" "Yes, let's upload our pictures and write captions that make everyone feel like they are right here with us." In order for Koko and Pip to have their followers feel a part of the action, they need to use... Progressive Verb Tenses Verbs are action words, like dance. Verb tenses show WHEN an action happens. Tenses can show that actions happen in the past, present, or future. PROGRESSIVE verb tenses describe ongoing actions. It tells about something that is, was, or will be happening at some point in time. Progressive verb tense uses a helping verb form of ‘to be’ and the main verb of the action that ends with -ing. When the action happens in the present tense we use the helping verbs IS, AM, or ARE. When the action happened in the past, we use the helping verbs WAS or WERE. When the action will happen in the future, we use the helping verb WILL BE. Let's look at the progressive verb tenses of some of Koko and Pip's Great Barrier Reef posts to see when the action took place. Pip and I are jumping up and down with excitement! The main verb, or action, of this sentence, is jumping, and... the helping verb form of 'to be' is ARE. The progressive verb tense, 'are jumping' tells us this ongoing action is happening, NOW and is in the present tense. Pip was having trouble with his snorkel gear! The main verb of this sentence is having and the helping verb is 'was'. The progressive verb tense, 'was having' tells us this ongoing action ALREADY happened and is in past tense. We will be diving under the water to explore the coral reef. What is the helping verb and main verb of this sentence? Will be' is the helping verb and the main verb is 'diving'. Will be diving' is in future progressive verb tense and lets us know this event is going to happen in the future. Let's practice progressive verb tenses by filling in the blanks on these sofagram posts. Read this sentence and fill in the blank with the tense that shows this action is happening NOW. [read/think time] Are' is the present tense helping verb. Koko and Pip ARE snorkeling through the Great Barrier Reef. Read this sentence and fill in the blank with the tense that shows this action will happen in the FUTURE. Koko and Pip WILL BE planning another trip to the Great Barrier Reef. Read this sentence and fill in the blank with the tense that shows this action has ALREADY happened. Koko and Pip WERE waving goodbye to all the sea life. While Koko and Pip head back to shore, let's summarize. Verb tenses show WHEN an action happens. PROGRESSIVE verb tenses describe ongoing actions. Progressive verb tense uses a helping verb form of ‘to be’ and the main verb of the action that ends with -ing. When the action happens in the present tense we use the helping verbs IS, AM, or ARE. When the action happened in the past, we use the helping verbs WAS or WERE. When the action will happen in the future, we use the helping verbs WILL BE. "I bet everyone is enjoying our posts!" "OH....we forgot to hit share!" "NOOOOOOOOO!" "NOOOOOOOOO!"

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1 comment
  1. Sofagram?

    From Ray, 29 days ago

Progressive Verb Tenses: Past, Present, and Future exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learned? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Progressive Verb Tenses: Past, Present, and Future .
  • Help Pip and Koko remember the rules of progressive verb tenses.

    Hints

    Progressive verb tenses use a helping verb.

    Progressive verb tenses are used to describe events happening in the past, present, or future.

    An example of a past progressive sentence is: I was studying all night last night!

    An example of a present progressive sentence is: I am learning Spanish at school.

    An example of a future progressive sentence is: I will be playing soccer later.

    Solution

    Progressive verb tenses use the helping verb "to be".
    For the present tense, we use the helping verbs is, am, or are.
    Progressive tense uses the letters -ing at the end of the main action verb (not the helping verb).

  • Determine which sentences are in the progressive tense, and which are not.

    Hints

    The progressive tense always has a main action verb ending in "-ing".

    The progressive tense uses the verb "to be" as a helping verb.

    The sentence, "I go to school Monday - Friday" is not progressive, because there is no helping verb and the main verb does not end in "-ing".

    Solution

    The sentences I am going swimming, The girl is dancing, and We are studying Language Arts all use the helping verb "to be" and have a main action verb ending in "-ing". These sentences use the progressive tense.

  • Identify the helping verb and main verb in each sentence.

    Hints

    In the progressive tense, the main action verb will always end in "-ing".

    The helping verb always comes before the main verb.

    Solution

    The verbs, are, will be, was, and am are all forms of the helping verb "to be". The verbs, jumping, swimming, having, and going all end in "-ing". These are the main verbs.

  • Determine which sentences are in the past, present, or future progressive tense.

    Hints

    Only one sentence is future progressive. Can you find this sentence first?

    Two sentences are past progressive. Can you find these next?

    Solution

    These sentences use the past tense forms of the helping verb "to be" (was and were). These are past progressive sentences:
    I was dancing the whole night!
    You were sleeping all morning.
    These sentences use the present tense forms of the helping verb "to be" (am, are, and is). These are present progressive sentences:
    I am dancing now!
    You are singing too loud!
    That car is going way too slow.
    This sentence uses the future form of the helping verb "to be" (will be). This is a future progressive sentence:
    I will be cleaning all day!

  • Determine which components may be used in a progressive tense sentence.

    Hints

    The helping verb "to be'' takes the form was or were in the past tense; am, is, or are in the present tense; and will be in the future tense.

    There are two correct answers.

    Solution

    The progressive tense always uses the helping verb "to be'', and has a main action verb ending with the letters -ing.

  • Complete the sentences using the knowledge you have learned about progressive verb tenses.

    Hints

    Look for time phrases, such as every day, yesterday, or next year, to show you if a sentence is in the past, present, or future.

    Always add the letters -ing to the end of the main verb.
    Look becomes looking.
    Play becomes playing.
    Swim becomes swimming.

    Solution

    The keywords, right now and every day, shows us the sentence is present progressive tense.
    The keywords, this morning and yesterday, shows us the sentence is past progressive tense.
    The keywords, next year, shows us the sentence is future progressive tense.