I've just started learning English grammar. I have a book with a lot of grammars. There is a unit for present continuous and there is an exercise in which the reader should write sentences based on a picture. Here it is.

Present Continuous Exercise

In the Key To Exercises section of the book it's stated that the answers for 3 and 7 (marked in the above picture with semitransparent red circles) are: She is sitting on the floor and She is wearing a hat.

But I think She isn't sitting on the floor and She isn't wearing a hat are the answers.

Isn't present continuous for activities that are getting done and are not finished yet? I think Jane has worn a hat, and she is not in the middle of wearing activity. Another alternative may be She has a hat on her head.

  • What is your native language?
    – user230
    Apr 26 '14 at 12:51
  • 3
    Jane is not putting on a hat, but she is wearing one. Apr 26 '14 at 12:53
  • @snailplane Persian/Farsi.
    – mrmowji
    Apr 26 '14 at 12:54
  • 7
    For sitting, English uses the same word for the process of getting into a sitting position, and the state of being in one. The easiest way I can think of distinguishing them is Jane was taking a seat and Jane was seated. But you'd usually say Jane was sitting in both situations. Apr 26 '14 at 13:14
  • @PeterShor Great explanation. Thank you very much.
    – mrmowji
    Apr 26 '14 at 13:29

We use the present continuous for actions taking place now, at the moment of speaking. So, when you have to describe what somebody is doing right now, you don't have to start thinking when she put on her hat, or if she has just sat down. What is she doing now? She's sitting and wearing a hat.


The sense of this exercise is mere mechanical drill. The sense of this exercise is not for you to analyse if a progessive form is the right thing or not, or whether present tense is correct or not. The only thing to do is to produce some sentences in present tense progressive, in positive or negative form. Your task is not to find new formulations. It's simply mechanical drill. You could as well make ten sentences of your own using this pattern: She is/isn't playing tennis. She is/isn't reading a letter And so on.

You mustn't take "in the middle of an action" too literally. When describing clothes the typical formulation is:

  • Susan is wearing a blue dress. We may assume that Susan put on her dress in the morning and will wear it the whole day. When present tense progressive is used this doesn't say anything about the time length this present tense progressive refers to:

  • This year we are reading Shakespeare at school. Here the progressive (in the act of doing) refers to a whole year.

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