grammarGRAMMAR


Basic Difference Between Simple Present And Present Continuous


Simple present vs present continuous

This lesson focuses on the difference between simple present and present continuous also called the present progressive and how these tenses are used.

Basic differences between the simple present and present continuous

Simple present

Form

The form of the simple present is as follows:


I, you, we, they

work

He, she, it

works.

Do I, you, we, they work?
Does he, she, it
I, you, we,they do not work.
don't
He, she, it does not
doesn't
Notice that the simple present takes an s in the third person singular. The axillaries do and does are used in the interrogative (i.e. to form questions) and negative forms.
Use

The simple present is used for actions or states that are generally true or for events that happen regularly (e.g. routines.)

Present continuous

Form
The verb to be (in the simple present) + verb + ing

In The affirmative form the present continuous is conjugated as follows:


I

am

working.

’m

You, we, they

are

’re

He, she, it

is

's

Use

1. Actions that are happening right now

The present continuous is used to talk about actions that are happening right now at the moment of speaking.

Example:

  • Mom is in the kitchen. She is preparing dinner.
  • Look at Jane! she is wearing a nice dress.
  • John is busy. He’s working at the moment.
  • It’s raining g heavily at the moment. We’d better go home immediately.

2. Temporary situations

Sometimes the present continuous is used to emphasize a situation that is temporary.

Example

  • I work for a digital marketing company. I'm working on a brand-new product.
    "The brand-new product" is a temporary situation and "working for a digital marketing company" is more permanent. It's true in general.
  • John's working with his father until he finds the job he prefers.
    "Working with his father" is a temporary situation.
Notice that although the actions are not happening at the moment of speaking, we use the present continuous. That’s because "working on a brand-new product" and "working with his father" are temporary situations.

2. Future plans

The present continuous is also used for things that we have planned and arranged to do at a specific time in the future.

Examples

  • He is meeting his new date tomorrow evening.
  • They are leaving tonight.

Signal words

The signal words that are typically used with the simple present and the present continuous include:

Present simple Present continuous

never

seldom

rarely

hardly ever

sometimes

usually

often

always

generally

occasionally

always

every day

every week

every month

every year

once or twice a day/week...

 

now

right now

at the moment

currently

today

this week

this month

this year

When not to use present continuous tense

We do not use the present continuous tense with state or stative verbs:

What are State/Stative verbs:

Stative verbs describe states rather than actions. Examples: hate, love, prefer, believe...

We tend not to use the present continuous with verbs that describe states rather than actions.

Example

We say:

I believe he is guilty.

NOT

I am believing he is guilty.

The verb believe is a stative. So we don’t conjugate it into the present continuous tense.

Other examples of stative verbs include:

Verbs of opinion and thought:
Believe, think, know, think, consider, agree, disagree, suppose, doubt, guess, imagine, recognize, remember, suspect, understand.

Verbs of emotions
Feel, hate, like, dislike, prefer, love...

Verbs the senses and perception
See, smell, feel, seem, appear...

Verbs of possession
Own, belong, have, possess...

Verbs that describe intrinsic states or qualities
Weigh, measure, cost, exist...

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