Present continuous Episode
„You talkin’ to me?” – Taxi driver
The former marine Travis Bickle is an insomniac and decides to work as a taxi driver in the night shift. Since he cannot sleep, he’s working long hours, and he’s drinking and smoking too much these days.
In the daytime when he isn’t at work he’s always watching adult movies in cinemas.
Travis is fed up with the society and he is constantly talking about how New York is gradually becoming a filthy mess.
Normally, he has strong opinions about what is right and what is wrong. However, sometimes he’s being weird and losing his mind.
When Travis sees the enchanting Betsy working as a volunteer in the campaign for president of Senator Charles Palantine, he has a crush on her.
He’s constantly watching her and slowly, he’s becoming obsessed with her.
After a while, Travis asks her out on a date. They’re going out for a day or two, but on the second date Travis takes her to an X-rated movie and Betsy breaks up with him.
Later, he meets a young prostitute called Iris who’s trying to flee from her pimp in his taxi, but the guy takes her from the car.
Travis buys several weapons from a dealer and he practices shooting because he wants to kill the presidential candidate.
He fails because of Palentine’s vigilant bodyguards.
When he meets Iris again, he is resolute to help her. One of his priorities is to be the saviour of Iris. Will Travis be able to finish his ‘mission’?
The present continuous (sometimes called the present progressive) tense in English is really easy to make and is the same for all verbs. We make it using the present simple of ‘be’ (am/is/are) + verb-ing:
Subject + be (am/is/are) + ‘verb –ing’
I am standing here.
He is drinking and smoking too much.
Subject + be + not + ‘verb –ing’
He isn’t (is not) talking to me.
(Question word – if there is one) + be (am/is/are) + subject + ‘verb –ing’?
Are you talking to me?
What are you talking about?
(What) Is he reading now?
We use it for things that are happening at the moment of speaking:
- I’m standing here.
- You talkin’ to me? (The grammatically correct version is: Are you talking to me?)
We can also use this tense for temporary situations when we feel something won’t continue for a long time:
- He is working long hours these days.
- Travis is staying with his friend for a week.
- Iris is trying to flee from Matthew.
Compare this with my previous episode where we discussed present simple, which is used for permanent situations that we feel will continue for a long time.
We can use the present continuous for habits but they have to be temporary or new habits
- He is drinking and smoking too much these days.
For normal habits that continue for a long time, we use the present simple: He smokes every day.
Another present continuous use is for annoying habits when we want to show that something happens too often and we don’t like it. In this case, we usually use an adverb like ‘always’, ‘forever’ or ‘constantly’:
- Travis is always watching adult movies in cinemas.
- He is drinking and smoking too much.
- He is constantly watching her.
The next use is for definite future arrangements (with a future time word). In this case, we have already made a plan and we are pretty sure that the event will happen in the future:
- He’s meeting with Betsy in the afternoon.
- Travis is leaving at 5 pm.
Finally, we use this tense to talk about a situation which is slowly changing:
- New York is gradually becoming a filthy mess.
- He is becoming obsessed with her.
THINGS TO NOTICE
We can’t normally use this tense (or any other continuous tense) with stative verbs. For example, want, know, agree, belong, love, like, hate, seem etc.
HOWEVER –as always- there are some exceptions:
- To talk about a temporary situation: “He’s being weird and losing his mind” – acting in a weird or crazy way.
- To emphasize a feeling: “I’m loving it” – most famous fast food chain’s slogan.
- To make requests more polite: Sorry to interrupt. I was wanting to borrow the car.
- Verbs with two meanings:
I have a car (I own a car)
I’m having a shower (I am taking a shower now)
Verb-ing vs. present participle adjective vs. gerund
Enchanting (adjective): charming, captivating: Betsy is an enchanting woman.
Working (verb): Betsy is working hard these days.
Working (adjective): Betsy is a working woman.
Working (reduced relative clause /advanced grammar – later we’ll cover it): Travis sees Betsy working as a volunteer.
Shooting (noun – gerund): He practices shooting.
Shooting (verb): He is shooting now.
Shooting (adjective): A shooting star. (compound noun)
VOCABULARY, PHRASES, COLLOCATIONS, IDIOMS, PHRASAL VERBS
Doing a job, working.
Bored, annoyed, or disappointed, especially by something that you have experienced for too long.
Lose somebody’s mind:
To become mentally ill, or to start behaving in a silly or strange way.
Have/has a crush on (someone):
A strong but temporary feeling of liking someone. To have a romantic infatuation with someone, especially unbeknownst to that person.
Ask somebody out:
To invite someone to come with you to a place such as the cinema or a restaurant, especially as a way of starting a romantic relationship.
Go out with somebody:
To date someone to have a romantic relationship with someone.
To end a romantic relationship with someone.
Flee from somebody:
To run away from someone or something.
Always being careful to notice things, especially possible danger.
Determined in character, action, or ideas.
Be able to:
To talk about special ability. Be able to is possible in all tenses – but “can” is possible only in the present and “could” is possible only in the past for ability. In addition, “can” and “could” have no infinitive form. So we use be able to when we want to use other tenses or the infinitive.
Will Travis be able to finish his ‘mission’?
Are you ready for some quizzes?
1. Make the present continuous
Travis/constantly watch Betsy.
You/talk to me?
He/not/work long hours these days.
Travis/always/watch adult movies in daytime.
Travis/stay with a friend for a week.
He/drink and smoke too much.
He/meet with Betsy in the afternoon?
Travis/not leave at 6 pm.
Iris/try to flee from Matthew.
2. Choose the present simple or present continuous
Travis…………………. (live) in New York.
He…………………. (work) as a taxi driver.
He………………….. (work) a lot nowadays.
…………………………. (Travis/smoke) every day?
…………………………. (Travis/smoke) now?
He…………………. (be) lonely. (permanently)
He…………………. (be) crazy. (temporary)
Betsy………………. (agree) to go on a date.
New York…………… (not/be) a small town.
New York…………… (become) a filthy mess. (the process)
Travis……………..(not/have) a car.
Travis……………….. (have) a shower at the moment.
Travis………………... (be) in the bathroom now.
Betsy…………………(be) a volunteer. (This is her job)
3. Short vocabulary
Which one of the following means "Bored, annoyed, or disappointed, especially by something that you have experienced for too long"?
Which one is the correct preposition before the word 'work'?
Have/has a crush .................. (someone):
'Break up' means:
Which one of the following means 'to invite someone on a date'?