Present simple VS Present continuous

Present simple or Present continuous lesson pdf

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You have seen in the first two lessons the simple present and the continuous present (or Be+ing present). But how to distinguish them? Which one to use in which situation? I go or I am going?


We use the simple present for things that happen in general and not really in time, or that happen frequently or permanently:

  • It rains a lot in autumn.
  • They learn mathematics in college.
  • He works in a factory.
  • My brother lives in Spain.
  • He usually eats pizzas at the restaurant.
  • She sleeps late at night.

BUT we use the continuous present (be+ing) to talk about something that is happening around the moment we are talking and that is not yet finished, but also to talk about temporary situations:

  • It’s raining a lot this afternoon.
  • I am learning french now.
  • He is working late today.
  • My brother is living in Spain until next month.
  • He is eating a pizza for lunch.
  • She’s sleeping in the living room.

Note: there are verbs that are not normally conjugated to the continuous present tense (no be+ing here) !

love / like / hate / understand / need /believe /  want / prefer / contain / mean / suppose / consist / seem / belong / know / remember / see / hear / smell / taste / guess / agree

  • He always wants to eat sandwiches. (NOT ‘He’s always wanting to eat sandwiches’)
  • What do you need ? (NOT ‘What are you needing ?’)
  • The room smells bad. (NOT ‘The room is smelling bad’)
  • They like this movie. (NOT ‘They are liking this movie’)
  • She understand spanish very well. (NOT ‘She is understanding spanish very well’)
  • He seems very happy. (NOT ‘He is seeming very happy’)
  • This cake tastes really good. (NOT ‘This cake is tasting really good’)

There are some exceptions like think

  • I’m thinking.
  • I think it’s very bad.

… but also feel and look, only with -ing as we speak:

  • How do you feel now ?   OR   How are you feeling now?
  • You look good tonight !   OR   You’re looking good tonight!


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