Present Simple VS Present Continuous

Present Simple is used:

  • for permanent situations.
    She works in an office.
  • for repeated or habitual actions in
    the present, especially with adverbs
    of frequency.
    He often buys her flowers.
  • for general truths and laws of nature.
    The Sun sets in the west.
  • for timetables or programmes.
    The lesson starts at 10 o’clock.

Present Continuous is used:

  • for temporary situations.
    He’s looking for a new job these days.
  • for actions happening at or around
    the time of speaking.
    Chris is painting the garage at the moment.
  • with a/ways to express annoyance or
    criticism. He’s always telling lies!
  • for fixed arrangements in the near
    future. I’m flying to London tomorrow.
    (It’s all arranged. I’ve already bought the
    tickets. The time of the action is always
    stated or understood.)

Time Expressions with the present simple

  • usually / always / never / often / sometimes
  • every day/week /month / year, on Mondays / Tuesdays,
  • in the morning / afternoon / evening, at night / the weekend,
    etc.

Time Expressions with the present continuous

  • now, at the moment, at present, this week / month,
  • these days, today, tonight, tomorrow, next week, etc.

Stative Verbs

Some verbs rarely appear in the continuous tenses. These verbs express a permanent state and they are: appear (= seem), be, believe, belong, cost, feel, forget, hate, have (= possess), know, like, love, mean, need, prefer, realise,remember, see, seem, smell, sound, suppose, taste, think, understand, want, etc.

  • I understand it now. NOT I am understanding it now.

Some of these verbs can be used in continuous tenses but with a difference in meaning.


Present Simple and Present Continuous Exercises