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What is the correct term used to describe this tense in English — Present Progressive or Present Continuous? I see both terms used in grammar books.

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3 Answers 3

To get technical about it, present is a tense, but continuous and progressive are grammatical aspects, not tenses. Whereas tenses mark when an action happens, aspects give other temporal information, such as duration, completion, or frequency. English makes no distinction between continuous and progressive, and they are both formed using the present participle (–ing verb forms). Some languages, such as Chinese, distinguish between continuous and progressive, where the continuous aspect refers to the continuing state of the subject, whereas progressive refers to the the fact that the action is in progress.

The Wikipedia article linked above gives an example from Cantonese, where verb suffixes are used to mark continuous and progressive. The plain sentence I wear clothes would be translated as I am wearing clothes if the verb suffix for the continuous aspect were used, and as I am putting on clothes if the verb suffix for progressive aspect were used.

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These are synonyms. Either meaning is understood.

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From what I know, English does not differentiate between the progressive and continuous tenses.
Consider this sentence 'I am wearing a red hat today'. In a progressive nature, this could not be comprehended because it is usually impossible to perform the action of wearing a hat for let say 8 hours progressively. Imagine someone trying to put on a hat from 6am and successfully complete it 8 hours later. But if we are to look at continuous nature, the sentence makes sense because 'wearing' in this context means I continuously wear the red hat throughout the day. I have finished putting it on at 6 am and continuously wear it for the rest of the day.

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@Bidella: they are progressive and continuous -aspects-. –  Mitch Mar 28 '12 at 0:55
    
@Mitch, edit it as you like! I don't have enough rep, so I can't change just one particular word. –  Bidella Mar 28 '12 at 3:10
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protected by RegDwigнt Sep 24 '12 at 10:25

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