Home TEFL forum Grammar & Vocabulary Can the present continuous have more than one meaning?

Can the present continuous have more than one meaning?

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  • TeachingFuji
    Participant
    27 June, 2009 at 14:40
    • Total posts: 2

    Can the present continuous have more than one meaning or be ambiguous? For example, "I am having my car fixed" Does this mean that my car is being fixed right now or that I will have it fixed in the near future as the PC is used for actions at present and schedules in the future.

    Participant
    10 July, 2009 at 14:21
    • Total posts: 58

    Reply To: Can the present continuous have more than one meaning?

    You are absolutely right – we can use the present continuous tense to talk about something happening at the moment of speaking, or to talk about a future arrangement.

    So with your sentence we would need some contextual information to know which function you are using.

    Have a look at this page for more functions of the present continuous.

    Keith

    e2e4
    Participant
    8 January, 2010 at 23:11
    • Total posts: 20

    Reply To: Can the present continuous have more than one meaning?

    I am having my car fixed.

    I am sorry by reason of my low level in English but this sentence means nothing to me.

    Participant
    9 January, 2010 at 9:50
    • Total posts: 58

    Reply To: Can the present continuous have more than one meaning?

    fix = repair.

    The person is taking his car somewhere (probably to a mechanic) for repairs. This may be happening now, or it may be a plan for the near future.

    This type of sentence is called a "causative" structure – please see here for more information.

    e2e4
    Participant
    9 January, 2010 at 12:10
    • Total posts: 20

    Reply To: Can the present continuous have more than one meaning?

    My car’s being repaired.

    jack705
    Participant
    4 April, 2010 at 11:58
    • Total posts: 15

    Reply To: Can the present continuous have more than one meaning?

    Yeah, it can be used to convey the time of future as well. For example, "I am going to buy a new car" means that the action would take place in future.

    dan
    Moderator
    5 April, 2010 at 8:01
    • Total posts: 770

    Reply To: Can the present continuous have more than one meaning?

    …although be careful here with the distinction between the present continuous and "going to":

    I’m going to buy a new car tomorrow
    I’m buying a new car tomorrow

    The meaning of the two sentences is very similar – to express a future plan or arrangement.

    – The first one (be + going to) normally refers to an intention to do something.
    – The second (present continuous) often refers more to an arrangement – imagine more of an appointment in your diary. For example:

    I’m going to have lunch soon (this is what you intend or plan to do)
    I’m having lunch with John tomorrow (this is an arrangement or appointment you have made with John)

    Dan

    ameliaharry654
    Participant
    29 October, 2019 at 10:46
    • Total posts: 1

    You are right.

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