Study this example situation:

Amy is in her car. She is on her way to work. She is driving to work.

Amy is in her car. She is on her way to work. She is driving to work. - English Grammar - Present continuous (I am doing)
Amy is in her car. She is on her way to work. She is driving to work.

This means: she is driving now, at the time of speaking. The action is not finished.

Am/is/are -ing is the present continuous:

Am/is/are -ing is the present continuous. - English Grammar - Present continuous (I am doing)

I am doing something = I’m in the middle of doing something; I’ve started doing it and I haven’t finished yet.

Often the action is happening at the time of speaking:

  • Please don’t make so much noise. I’m working. (not “I work”)
Please don’t make so much noise. I’m working. - English Grammar - Present continuous (I am doing)
Please don’t make so much noise. I’m working.

 

  • “Where’s Marry?”  “She’s having a bath.” (not “she has a bath”)
“Where’s Marry?” “She’s having a bath.” - English Grammar - Present continuous (I am doing)
“Where’s Marry?” “She’s having a bath.”

 

  • Let’s go out now. It isn’t raining any more. (not “it doesn’t rain”)
Let’s go out now. It isn’t raining any more. - English Grammar - Present continuous (I am doing)
Let’s go out now. It isn’t raining any more.

 

  • Hello, Jane. Are you enjoying the party? (not “do you enjoy”)
Hello, Jane. Are you enjoying the party? - English Grammar - Present continuous (I am doing)
Hello, Jane. Are you enjoying the party?

 

  • I’m tired. I’m going to bed now. Goodnight!
I’m tired. I’m going to bed now. Goodnight! - English Grammar - Present continuous (I am doing)
I’m tired. I’m going to bed now. Goodnight!

 

But the action is not necessarily happening at the time of speaking. For example:

Sarah and Ann are talking in a café. Sarah says:

I’m reading an interesting book at the moment. I’ll lend it to you when I’ve finished it.

I’m reading an interesting book at the moment. I’ll lend it to you when I’ve finished it. - English Grammar - Present continuous (I am doing)
I’m reading an interesting book at the moment. I’ll lend it to you when I’ve finished it.

 

Sarah is not reading the book at the time of speaking. She means that she has started it but not finished it yet. She is in the middle of reading it.

Some more examples:

  • Susan wants to work in Italy, so she is learning Italian. (but perhaps she isn’t learning Italian exactly at the time of speaking)
Susan wants to work in Italy, so she is learning Italian. - English Grammar - Present continuous (I am doing)
Susan wants to work in Italy, so she is learning Italian.

 

  • Some friends of mine are building their own house. They hope it will be finished before next winter.
Some friends of mine are building their own house. They hope it will be finished before next winter. - English Grammar - Present continuous (I am doing)
Some friends of mine are building their own house. They hope it will be finished before next winter.

 

We use the present continuous when we talk about things happening in a period around now (for example, today / this week / this evening etc.):

  • “You’re working hard today.” “Yes, I have a lot to do.” (not ”you work hard today”)
“You’re working hard today.” “Yes, I have a lot to do.” - English Grammar - Present continuous (I am doing)
“You’re working hard today.” “Yes, I have a lot to do.”

 

Is Lisa working this week?”  “No, she’s on holiday.”

“Is Lisa working this week?” “No, she’s on holiday.” - English Grammar - Present continuous (I am doing)
“Is Lisa working this week?” “No, she’s on holiday.”

 

We use the present continuous when we talk about changes happening around now:

  • The population of the world is rising very fast. (not “rises”)
The population of the world is rising very fast. - English Grammar - Present continuous (I am doing)
The population of the world is rising very fast.

 

  • Is your English getting better? (not “does your English get better”)
Is your English getting better? - English Grammar - Present continuous (I am doing)
Is your English getting better?