Continuous Tense (1)

In some cases, it can be difficult to distinguish between similar-looking clause patterns. Consider the following sentences:

At first glance, these clauses look the same. Upon closer examination, however, we should notice that these patterns are not the same.

Sentence Pattern Explanation

She is a doctor.


Here, the word "is" functions as a linking verb. The meaning of the sentence is "She = doctor." Therefore, the pattern is equative.

She is swimming.


This sentence does not mean "She = swimming." Rather, here "is swimming" is acting like one big verb.

Specifically, "is swimming" is the present continuous tense of the verb "to swim". It means that this person is still swimming at this moment.

(Likewise, "She was swimming" means that she was continuing to swim at some point in the past.)

Because—in this sentence—the phrase "is swimming" functions as a verb, the pattern of the sentence is intransitive.


The continuous tense is always formed by a two-word combination. The first word is a helping word, and the helping word is always a form of the verb "to be", such as:

The second word is the present particple (-ing form) of the verb .

  Continuous Tense Verb
Subject Helping Word
("to be")
Present Partiple
(-ing form)
Enrique is swimming.
Kirk was working.
Shannon has been cooking.
They were shouting.
We are singing.


Instructions for the Quiz

Identify the underlined word(s):

Example 1:

I read an entertaining book.

  • adjective
  • verb

Answer = A.

"Entertaining" is the present participle of the verb "to entertain".

In this sentence, "entertaining" is being used as an adjective that describes the book. Therefore, the answer is A (adjective).


The magician is entertaining the audience.

  • adjective
  • verb

Answer = B.

In this sentence, "entertaining" is part of a big, two-part verb: is entertaining. This two-part verb is the continuous tense of the verb "to entertain". Therefore, the answer is B (verb).



Instructions for the Quiz