Plans, intentions and arrangements for the future – Present continuous tense
The present continuous tense is used to refer to actions or situations that are happening now, at this moment
It is also used to refer to actions or situations that are temporary, present continuous for temporary periods of time that last for a long time.
There is also a third common use for this tense:
to talk about actions or situations in the future
How we use Present Continuous Tense
for The Future
We use the present continuous tense to talk about the future when an action or situation is part of a:
- an arrangement
Sentences with this use of the present continuous always have words or phrases which refer to future time or the context leaves it very clear:
- Mary’s studying in the library. (now)
She’s studying at Bethan’s house this evening. (future)
- Stan’s arriving. (now) He’s just called from the airport
He’s arriving tomorrow morning about 7.30 (future)
- We’re driving to Manchester. (now)
We’re driving to Glasgow next week. (future)
- We’re doing a physics exam. (now)
We’re doing a History exam in two days. (future)
- They’re swimming in the pool. (now)
They’re swimming across the bay tomorrow. (future)
For future actions or situations using the present continuous, all the common future time words and phrases can be used:
- this afternoon
- tomorrow morning / afternoon/ evening / night, etc.
- next week / month/ December / year, etc.
- the day after tomorrow
- the week / month / year, etc. after next
- in ___ hours / days / weeks / months, etc.
- ___ hours / days / weeks / months, etc. from now
- in 2013 (or other year)
- on Christmas day / November 24th (future date)
Certain verbs, actions or situations in sentences cannot be used with the present continuous with future meaning because they are not part of a plan, an arrangement or an intention. The present continuous tense for the future can only be used when an action or situation can logically be planned in advance:
- My leg’s hurting next Thursday. Is NOT possible
- He’s having an accident in December. Is NOT possible
- It’s snowing next week. Is NOT possible
The Present Continuous (present progressive) form and introduction can be seen in this article.