I have a sentence:

We are having a party this evening.

I don't know why we use present continuous. In grammar, we don't use having for possess.

  • 1
    I'm not sure what your problem is here? The present continuous is used correctly here as it describes a planned event that is happening in the future. More information on the use of present continuous can be found here: learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar/verbs/…
    – Jascol
    Feb 5, 2016 at 17:25
  • 3
    I suppose technically speaking, We're having a party tonight is the same as I'm going to London tonight. But somehow the precise syntactic relationships seem not to be the same if I compare We have a party tonight with I go to London tonight (the former seems like a perfectly ordinary way of reminding your partner to pick up some beer on the way home from work; the latter just sounds klunky, formal, and dated). Feb 5, 2016 at 17:31
  • 3
    The word have does not always mean "to possess something". If you look it up on Oxford Dictionary you will see it has even a meaning of "to eat" and in your context it means "organize and bring about" according to the Oxford Dictionary. Check out the meaning 4.2 oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/have
    – Mrt
    Feb 5, 2016 at 18:01
  • Possible duplicate of In depth explanation of the difference between "will" and "going to"?
    – GoDucks
    Feb 6, 2016 at 16:03

3 Answers 3


We use the present continuous for things that are going to happen in the future, but which we have already arranged with other people.

The question "Why do we use the present continuous for future plans" is a very good question.

Well, one reason is that English only has two tenses. It has a past tense and a non-past (present) tense. We need to use some kind of present tense construction to describe our plans about the future.

We usually use the present simple, for example, I play the violin to describe things that generally or usually or often happen. We usually use will for predictions or guarantees about the future I will play the violin for you, I promise. We normally use the present continuous for things when we want to show that they are happening now, as opposed to usually Shhh, Bertha's playing the violin.

In English, when we make arrangements with other people, we think that that plan has already started to happen. This isn't such a strange idea. Imagine you see me dressed in very nice clothes and wearing lots of aftershave. You might say "Why are you looking so smart today?" I might answer you "I'm meeting a special girl this evening. We're going out for a meal." You can already see the results of my plan. I've chosen special clothes. I've put on some aftershave. My plan has already started happening. So this plan is happening right now. It started when I arranged to have a date. The process has already started even though my actual date is this evening, not right now. We use the present continuous for things that are happening now. So, when we make arrangements in English, we usually use the present continuous.

The Original Poster's question

We are having a party this evening.

The speaker is using the present continuous in this sentence because this plan has already started. It is in process right now.

  • We also use the present continuous for things that are happening now. (Sorry about the noise. I'm having a party this evening.) I assume the OP wants to know why we say, e.g., I'm having a good day but not I'm having a nice brother or I'm having not much money right now. Feb 13, 2016 at 10:30
  • But "We have a party this evening" is also correct. What's the difference?
    – user1425
    Feb 23, 2020 at 8:46

One use of the present continuous is talking about fixed plans in the (near) future.

  • I'm doing my homework this evening. I'm starting university in September. Sally is meeting John at seven o'clock this evening in a restaurant downtown.

See Grammar Lessons, future, point 1. Link

The present continuous has several uses. English Page gives an overview: 1 now - 2 longer actions, now - 3 near future - 4 with always Link


To have a party is like to throw a party. Both mean to host a party.

We often use is/are going to to refer to future time or events in the future.

See "When I grow up, I am going to be a doctor"- Is it correct?.

In depth explanation of the difference between "will" and "going to"?.

When to use "be going to" / present continuous in future?.

Why is 'what will you do tomorrow evening' incorrect?.

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