Present Continuous Questions

By | August 21, 2013

The present continuous is usually used to talk about actions that have started in the past and have not yet finished. On top of this, it’s also used to describe actions that will start in the near future, long term actions and finally repeated actions that cause irritation, and to show something that is new and contrasting. For for information about the uses of the present continuous, click here.

present continuous questionsThis post will explain how to form questions in the present continuous tense. For more information about forming sentences and statements using the present continuous, click here.

There are 2 parts to this blog post, firstly we’ll take a look at yes/no questions. They are called yes/no questions because the answer will usually be yes or no! Secondly, we’ll take a look at ‘wh’ questions. For a list of ‘wh’ question words, click here.

Yes/No Questions

There are three main parts when forming present continuous questions: subject, auxiliary verb (be) and verb plus ‘ing’. For more information about spelling continuous verbs click here.

The auxiliary verb (be) changes to am/is/are depending on whether the subject is plural, singular or 3rd person. Here is the form of present continuous questions.

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Verb (be) + Subject + Verb(ing) + ObjectsVerb (be) + Subject + Not + Verb(ing) + Objects
Am I eating lunch?Am I not eating lunch?
Is he eating lunch?Is he not eating lunch?
Is she eating lunch?Is she not eating lunch?
Is it eating lunch?Is it not eating lunch?
Are you eating lunch?Are you not eating lunch?
Are we eating lunch?Are we not eating lunch?
Are they eating lunch?Are they not eating lunch?

If, for example, the subject isn’t a pronoun as described above, but it is a noun like ‘John’ for example. Then ‘John’ can be changed to ‘he’ and therefore you would use ‘is’. Similarly, if you wrote ‘My friends’ then ‘My friends’ can be changed to ‘they’ and therefore you would use ‘are’.

Wh Questions

You can’t can’t answer yes or no to ‘wh’ questions. To form a ‘Wh’ question, you must put words like where, what, why, who, when or how before the verb ‘be’ (see a full list of ‘wh’ question words). In the following table, we’ll use ‘why’ as an example, but you could replace ‘why’ with any ‘wh’ word. Although sometimes, the question might be an odd or confusing question and not make sense. For example, although the following question is grammatically correct, you wouldn’t normally ask “How are they eating?” because the answer would be obvious!

Wh Question + Verb (be) + Subject + Verb(ing) + ObjectsWh Question + Verb (be) + Subject + Not + Verb(ing) + Objects
Why am I eating lunch?Why am I not eating lunch?
Why is he eating lunch?Why is he not eating lunch?
Why is she eating lunch?Why is she not eating lunch?
Why is it eating lunch?Why is it not eating lunch?
Why are you eating lunch?Why are you not eating lunch?
Why are we eating lunch?Why are we not eating lunch?
Why are they eating lunch?Why are they not eating lunch?

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Image “Man Stuck Under A Question Mark” by cooldesign courtesy of

Author: William Lake

I've been teaching English as a second language for a number of years. I'm currently teaching in Siem Reap, Cambodia. You can find me on Google Plus, Twitter and LinkedIn and StumbleUpon.