Progressive Tenses: Present, Past, and Future

 

    Progressive tenses add further information to that which a verb provides in a sentence. As explained in simple present, past, future posts, each tense provides information about the time when the action or even happens. Therefore, progressive tenses (also known as continuous) indicate that the even or action happened within a time span or emphasize their duration for a purpose in the past, present, or future. If the sense of continuity of the action provides valuable information, it can be added to any of the simple tenses. Examples are given below for each time and tense.

    When an event or an action takes time to complete, it needs to be reflected in the sentence using the verb. This continuity can be shown in the past, present, or future using the progressive indicator: -ing. Remember that adding the progressive form to all three tenses needs a small change to the verb. We begin from present, and move on to the past and the future.

 

Present progressive

    Present simple indicates that an event is a regular one or considered to be true at all times. However, present progressive shows that the event is either happening at the time of speaking or within a range of time that began in the past and with finish in a specific time in the future. Present progressive can be used to talk about current projects or activities. Is/are + v-ing(simple present verb) is the indicator of present progressive tense.

 

Example A

Simple present

    I prepare all HR reports. I use the HR database and ask for some information from the financial department.

 

Present progressive

    I am preparing an HR report for the board meeting next week, so I can’t attend the meeting right now. (at the moment of speaking)

    We are preparing an HR report for the board meeting next week. I need some information from the financial department as well. (an ongoing action that will be finished in the future)

 

Example B

Lotus Trading Co.

    Lotus is currently conducting business with 32 manufacturing companies in 7 countries. Jack Bender is working on a proposal that if approved, can expand their market to 5 more countries in Asia. The marketing team is researching other possible international markets as well, however their current resources may not allow them the freedom to cover more than the 5 additional countries. The financial department is trying to determine an estimate of possible market coverage in the next 5 years.

 

 

Past progressive

    Similar to present progressive, past progressive reveals the occurrence of an action within a time period. The only difference is that the action happened in the past. Thus, past progressive is used to talk about an action that occurred at a specific time in a limited time span in the past. Usually this tense shows that an action occurred in relation to another one. This tense can be used to speak about ongoing and repetitive activities done in the past. The past progressive indicator of the verb is: was/were + v-ing (simple present verb).

 

Example A

Simple past

    I went to the office at 9am. On my way, I saw John and I picked him up. We talked about the recent financial constraints.

 

Past progressive

    I was going to the office at 9am. (I was on my way to the office at 9am.)

    I was going to the office when I saw John. John was waiting for a taxi. I stopped and told him to get in the car. We were talking about the financial constraints and the possibility of getting a loan when we arrived. John said he would talk to the bank.

 

Example B

Lotus Trading Co.

    Lotus was a small company when it started to work in Paris. Lawrence and Jack tried very hard to turn into a successful business. Lawrence was always looking for customers inside and out of the country, having meetings almost every day. Jack, however, was focusing on market research. He wanted to find potential international markets from the beginning. Although they didn’t always see eye to eye, they both believed in each other and worked together harmoniously. What Lotus is today is a testament to their perseverance and persistence.

 

Future progressive

    Future perfect indicates that an event will begin in the future and continue to be true for some time. This tense emphasize that an action is to happen during a period of time or occur repetitively within that period. The indicator for future progressive is: will + be + v-ing (simple present verb). It can be used to express decisions or simply state future actions.

 

Example A

Simple future

    John will attend the board meeting next week.

 

Future progressive

    John will be in the office before the board meeting starts. He will be preparing for the meeting with Jack. When it is his turn to present the financial report, he will be talking about recent limitation of resources, suggesting various options to the board.

 

Example B

Lotus Trading Co.

Before the board meeting

    The board meeting will be held at the head office in Paris. All members will be there by 4pm. Since financial limitations prevent further market enhancements, Lawrence, Jack, and John will be speaking on the subject for most of the meeting. They hope they can convince the board to increase the capital.

After the board meeting

    The board meeting is adjourned. Fortunately, the managers have succeeded to convince the board to increase the capital. They will be taking care of formalities for a couple of weeks, but they will finally be able to expand their market in Asia. Meanwhile, Jack will be travelling overseas to meet with some potential customers personally.

 

 

 

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