When we talk about the present, people often refer to their present life using the present tense: “I work at the supermarket.” However, there is another verb tense for the continuous present, the present progressive tense, which is used to create a greater sense of continuity or ongoing action.
In English, the present progressive tense (or present continuous tense—it’s the same thing) is formed by combining the verb “to be” with the present participle: for instance, “I am working.”* So:
- Present tense: I work.
- Present progressive/continuous tense: I am working.
In Spanish, the present progressive tense functions similarly:
- Present tense: Trabajo.
- Present progressive tense: Estoy trabajando.
Note that Spanish always uses estoy with the present progressive. We’ll discuss that more in the section that follows.
*For more on the present progressive tense in English, see the entry on Advanced Verb Tenses in the Guide to Writing.