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Progressive Aspect

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.) For example, past perfect progressive refers to something that started in the past but continues into the future.

Ongoing actions - Understanding the progressive aspect

The purpose of the progressive aspect is to express actions that are processes occurring over time, and not just in a single instant. The progressive aspect always makes use of the present participle (or "-ing" forms) of base verbs. 

You can formulate different kinds of tenses in the progressive aspect by joining different helping verbs up with the present participle form of whatever verb. 

Proper usage and examples

Here is an example of the progressive aspect being used correctly within a sentence. 

"We were driving for seven hours when we decided that it was probably time to pull over and find a motel for the night." 

In this sentence, the phrase "were driving" is a correct use of the progressive aspect. 

Now, here is an example of the incorrect use of the progressive aspect. 

"They are been drinking all day long; we hope they've had fun because they are going to feel quite awful in the morning."

In this sentence, "are been" should be "have been" in order for the progressive aspect to match up with the tense of the sentence. 

In case you are still a little confused, here are a couple rules you can follow in order to make good use of the progressive aspect. 

  1. The progressive aspect is always used in order to talk about an ongoing action, either past, present, or future. Moreover, it is used to call attention to the fact that the action does in fact have duration over time. If the action either does not have a duration or you don't want to call attention to that, then you shouldn't use the progressive aspect. 
  2. The progressive aspect always makes use of the present participle. The different forms of the progressive aspect, though, are created through the conjunction of the present participle with a specific helping verb combination. These usually include some forms of the verbs be, have, and will. The different tenses can be found in other entries of the present glossary. 

Further information on the progressive aspect

The progressive aspect is a way of talking about action not just in an instantaneous way, but also as a process that unfolds over a given span of time. Of course, most human activities, including the general process of living itself, consists of exactly such continuous action.

The basic form of the progressive aspect is the present progressive, or talk about what is immediately happening in the present. Then, through the use of imagination, such continuous action can also be projected into the past or the future. 

The progressive aspect always has the property of conveying a sense of immediacy or taking the reader into the experiential reality of the person engaged in the continuous action. Other aspects are useful for simply reporting the fact that a given process occurred. Journalism is one type of writing that frequently use progressive aspects.

The progressive aspect, on the other hand, almost necessarily concentrates attention to the subjective experience (as opposed to the objective fact) of the persons involved in the action. This is because if an action is occurring over time, then naturally, someone must be experiencing it. The progressive aspect calls specific attention to this process of experiencing an action

The progressive aspect, on the other hand, almost necessarily concentrates attention to the subjective experience (as opposed to the objective fact) of the persons involved in the action. This is because if an action is occurring over time, then naturally, someone must be experiencing it. The progressive aspect calls specific attention to this process of experiencing an action

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