If you are a parent of a child in primary school, you will probably be becoming aware of the increased focus on grammar and punctuation contained in the new National Curriculum. Your child’s school may have provided information about the new English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests which Year 2 and Year 6 children will be taking next summer. Depending upon when and where you went to school, you may find the information coming from school (and the terminology being used by your child) challenging.

Whether you are bewildered by the terminology used or just want to know a little more to support your child, I hope you will find this blog useful. You can click on the Parent’s Start Page to link to information about different areas of grammar and punctuation. Alternatively, enter a term in the search bar or click on a word in the cloud of labels. If you have further queries, get in touch and I will try to help where I can. You can also follow me on Twitter @grammarpuss13.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

What are the present progressive and past progressive forms of verbs?

Progressive forms of verbs (sometimes referred to as ‘continuous’ forms) are used to indicate continuation of an action or state of being.

The present progressive shows that the action or state of being is continuing at the present time, e.g. He is running; she is getting stronger.

The past progressive shows that the action or state of being was continuing at the time being referred to, e.g. He was crossing the bridge; she was feeling sad.

Progressive forms are constructed by using a form of the verb ‘be’ + the present participle of a verb, which ends in –ing. 

The present progressive is detailed below, giving some examples of use with proper nouns (names), common nouns (the robot/the children) and pronouns:
  • I am writing
  • Jack/he is writing
  • Amy/she is writing
  • The robot/it is writing
  • You are writing
  • We are writing
  • The children/they are writing

You can see that the form of the verb ‘be’ is different for ‘I’ (am), ‘he/she/it’ (is) and ‘you/we/they’ (are) so, when using the present progressive, children need to choose the correct form of ‘be’ to match the person or pronoun.

The past progressive is formed using the past tense of the verb ‘be’:
  • I was writing
  • Jack/he was writing
  • Amy/she was writing
  • The robot/it was writing
  • You were writing
  • We were writing
  • The children/they were writing
With this form of the progressive, only ‘was’ and ‘were’ are used.

If we just write the present participle (-ing verb) in a sentence, we cannot tell whether the action is in the past or the present and the sense will not be complete, so it is the verb ‘be’ (am/is/are/was/were) that indicates whether we are writing in the past or present.

The dragon flying.  (doesn’t make full sense; we cannot say present or past tense)
The dragon is flying. (present tense) 
The dragon was flying. (past tense)

To use Standard English, children need to match the correct form of ‘be’ to the pronoun, so it is important to know when to use am, is, are, was, were.  The ‘Happy Families’ game (link below) helps children get used to the different forms of ‘be’ and how they should be used to make the present and past progressive.  The verbs are all used in the context of a sentence.  

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