If you\u2019re an English speaker, you almost certainly use the progressive (or continuous) tenses every day. But what exactly are the progressive tenses? And how do they work? Check out our guide below to find out how to use the progressive and perfect progressive tenses correctly in your writing.\n\nWhat Are the Progressive Tenses?\nWe use the progressive or continuous tenses to describe ongoing actions. This includes ongoing actions in the present (the present progressive tense), the past (the past progressive tense) and the future (the future progressive tense).\nThese tenses are formed by using a form of the verb "be" (e.g., is, am, are, was, were) plus a present participle (i.e., an -ing verb). For instance:\nI am baking a cake.\nWe were swimming in the sea.\nWe can also form perfect forms of these tenses (i.e., the present, past, and future progressive tenses). These use some form of the phrase "have been" before a present participle to describe ongoing actions in relation to a given timeframe:\nI have been baking all morning.\nWe had been swimming since daybreak.\nLet\u2019s take a look at each of the progressive tenses in more detail.\n\nThe Present, Past and Future Progressive Tenses\nWe use the progressive tenses to refer to ongoing actions. The present progressive tense, for instance, combines "am," "is," or "are" with a present participle to describe ongoing actions happening in the present moment:\nI am reading my book.\nThe neighbor\u2019s dog is barking again.\nThe boys are running around the house.\nThe past progressive tense describes ongoing actions that began and ended in the past. You can also use it to say what was happening when another action begins. In either case, it involves using "was" or "were" with a present participle:\nI was reading that book last week.\nThey were driving home when the snowstorm started.\nAnd the future progressive tense is used for ongoing actions that will happen at some point in the future. You can form it by using "will be" with a present participle:\nI will be finishing college next year.\nThey will be leaving when the taxi arrives.\nMake sure to pick the right form of "be" for the tense you are using!\n\nThe Perfect Progressive Tenses\nWe can use the perfect progressive (or perfect continuous) tenses to describe ongoing actions in relation to a stated timeframe.\nThe present perfect progressive tense, for example, describes actions that began in the past and continue into the present (or that have recently ended). It is formed by combining "has been" or "have been" with a present participle:\nI have been watching television all day.\nThe sun has been shining, but it is cloudy now.\nThe past perfect progressive tense refers to ongoing actions that began and ended in the past, typically in relation to another action (or a stated time). It is formed by combining "had been" and a present participle:\nThe cake had been baking for an hour when she smelled smoke.\n\nWe had been waiting for them to arrive since the morning.\nThe future progressive tense combines "will have been" and a present participle to describe the duration of an ongoing action in relation to a set time or event:\nBy the end of the year, he will have been working here for six months.\nYou will have been walking for three days by the time you arrive.\nThese tenses all combine some form of "have been" with a present participle.\n\nProofreading for Grammar\nHopefully, our quick guide will help you use the progressive tenses with confidence. But if you would like a little extra help with your grammar, our proofreaders are experts. Why not submit a free trial document for proofreading today?