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I am really struggling with tense/verb phrase without an action. I have been researching all the tense/verb phrases I am aware of but is it just 'present tense' & nothing more? As for meaning, I guess it sets the scene but nothing more.

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2 Answers 2

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You are asking about the present progressive (or present continuous tense).

It is formed using the simple present of the verb to be and the present participle of another verb.

(are asking is also the present progressive.)

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"It's raining outside" I am really struggling with tense/verb phrase without an action. I have been researching all the tense/verb phrases I am aware of but is it just 'present tense' & nothing more? As for meaning, I guess it sets the scene but nothing more.

In fact there is an action. The action is happening now.

"The rain is falling" means "The rain falls at this moment".

"It is falling" means "It falls at this moment."

"It is raining" means "It rains at this moment (i.e. right now, as I speak)"

The simple present tense in English does not necessarily refer to the present! That is to say it does not refer to the time at which someone is speaking.

Example

If I say, "John walks", it does not mean that John is in the process of walking at this moment. It means that 'walking' is an activity that John carries out from time to time in his life, e.g. "John walks to work every day."

If you wish to say that John's action of 'walking' happens at the time you speak, you must say, "John is walking." It effectively means, "John is engaged in the process of walking as I speak."

This is called the present progressive tense and it represents a current action.

Note

An older name for this tense is 'present continuous'.

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