I have heard four different names:

  • Progressive tense
  • Progressive aspect
  • Continuing aspect
  • Continuous tense

Which is the grammatically correct name approved by most grammar books and dictionaries? Or are they different terms and mean different things?

  • 2
    Because tense corresponds with "time". So I wouldn't consider "progressive" a tense. I call it a "progressive aspect". And we only have two tenses: present and past(the inflectional form of past tense is normally called preterite)
    – user178049
    Apr 14, 2017 at 11:06
  • 2
    And even the tag used is "progressive-aspect".
    – user178049
    Apr 14, 2017 at 11:18
  • Most of the time, progressive aspect and continuous aspect are used interchangeably and you can use them as such on ELL. Some grammar(ian)s observe the distinction, however, so we can't consider them synonymous for all intents and purposes in descriptions of all languages.
    – user3395
    Apr 14, 2017 at 13:51

1 Answer 1


Most importantly, let's not mess up tense and aspect.

In grammar, the word tense refers to the time period in which the verb of a sentence places an action. For each grammatical tense, there are subcategories called aspects.

Aspect refers to the duration of an event within a particular tense. In other words, the aspect of a tense allows us to describe or understand how an event unfolds over time. English has four aspects: simple, progressive , perfect , and perfect progressive.

Consequently, it would be incorrect to say things such as: progressive tense, continuous tense, or continuing tense as they are all aspects.

As regards the use of the three terms, progressive, continuous and continuing, all of them are correct, but progressive, statistically speaking, outscores the other two.

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