What Is the Progressive Aspect? (with Examples)

What Is the Progressive Aspect? (with Examples)

The progressive aspect (or continuing aspect as it's sometimes called) is the aspect of a verb that expresses an on-going action.

Progressive aspect is the collective term for verbs (past, present, or future) in a progressive tense. (This means the perfect progressive tenses too.)

Examples of Verbs in the Progressive Aspect

Verbs in the progressive aspect are recognizable by the present participle (i.e., the word which ends -ing). Here are some examples of verbs in the progressive aspect. The list below includes verbs in the progressive tenses and the perfect progressive tenses.

In the Past Tense
  • He was singing.
  • (progressive tense)
  • We were playing.
  • (progressive tense)
  • She had been flying.
  • (perfect progressive tense)
In the Present Tense
  • I am leaving.
  • (progressive tense)
  • They are diving.
  • (progressive tense)
  • They have been fighting.
  • (perfect progressive tense)
In the Future Tense
  • I will be flying.
  • (progressive tense)
  • They will be acting.
  • (progressive tense)
  • She will have been singing.
  • (perfect progressive tense)

Forming the Progressive Aspect

The progressive aspect is formed using a form of the auxiliary verb to be and the present participle. For example:

Forming the Past Progressive Tense

"was" or "were" + present participle
  • We were writing.
Forming the Present Progressive Tense

"is" or "are" + present participle
  • She is diving.
  • They are eating.
Forming the Future Progressive Tense

"will be" + present participle
  • He will be flying.
The progressive aspect also includes the perfect progressive tenses. These are formed using a form of the auxiliary verb to have, plus been, and the present participle. For example:

Forming the Past Perfect Progressive Tense

"had" + "been" + present participle
  • They had been eating.
Forming the Present Perfect Progressive Tense

"has" or "have" + "been" + present participle
  • He has been eating.
  • We have been eating.
Forming the Future Perfect Progressive Tense

"will have" + "been" + present participle
  • He will have been eating.

Verb Tenses Showing the Progressive Aspect

Here is a list of the verb tenses. The ones in the progressive aspect are shaded.

The 4 Past Tenses Example
simple past tense I went
past progressive tense I was going
past perfect tense I had gone
past perfect progressive tense I had been going
The 4 Present Tenses Example
simple present tense I go
present progressive tense I am going
present perfect tense I have gone
present perfect progressive tense I have been going
The 4 Future Tenses Example
simple future tense I will go
future progressive tense I will be going
future perfect tense I will have gone
future perfect progressive tense I will have been going

See Also

What is the continuing aspect? What is aspect? What are the progressive tenses? What are the perfect progressive tenses? What is the past progressive tense? What is the present progressive tense? What is the future progressive tense? What is the past perfect progressive Tense? What is the present perfect progressive tense? What is the future perfect progressive tense?