Present Simple Vs Present Continuous


Watch the videos and examine methodically and in detail the constitution or structure of the simple present versus present continuous as well as the use of each of them. 


Simple PresentPresent Progressive
(3rd person singular: infinitive + 's')
I speak
you speak
he / she / it speaks
we speak
they speak
form of 'be' and verb + ing
I am speaking
you are speaking
he / she / it is speaking
we are speaking
they are speaking
Exceptions when adding 's' :
  • For can, may, might, must, do not add s.
    Example: he can, she may, it must
  • After o, ch, sh or s, add es.
    Example: do - he does, wash - she washes
  • After a consonant, the final consonant ybecomes ie. (but: not after a vowel)
    Example: worry - he worries
    but: play - he plays
Exceptions when adding 'ing' :
  • Silent e is dropped. (but: does not apply for -ee)
    Example: come - coming
    but: agree - agreeing
  • After a short, stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled.
    Example: sit - sitting
  • After a vowel, the final consonant l is doubled in British English (but not in American English).
    Example: travel - travelling (British English)
    but: traveling (American English)
  • Final ie becomes y.
    Example: lie - lying
See also explanations on Simple Present and Present Progressive


In general or right now?

Do you want to express that something happens in general or that something is happening right now?
Simple PresentPresent Progressive
in general (regularly, often, never)
Colin plays football every Tuesday.
present actions happening one after another
First Colin plays football, then he watches TV.
right now
Look! Colin is playing football now.
also for several actions happening at the same time
Colin is playing football and Anne is watching.
Signal words
  • always
  • every ...
  • often
  • normally
  • usually
  • sometimes
  • seldom
  • never
  • first
  • then
  • at the moment
  • at this moment
  • today
  • now
  • right now
  • Listen!
  • Look!
Note: The following verbs are usually only used in Simple Present:
be, have, hear, know, like, love, see, smell, think, want

Timetable / Schedule or arrangement?

Do you want to express that something is arranged for the near future? Or do you refer to a time set by a timetable or schedule?
Simple PresentPresent Progressive
action set by a timetable or schedule
The film starts at 8 pm.
arrangement for the near future
I am going to the cinema tonight.

Daily routine or just for a limited period of time?

Do you want to talk about a daily routine? Or do you want to emphasis that something is only going on for a limited (rather short) period of time?
Simple PresentPresent Progressive
daily routine
Bob works in a restaurant.
only for a limited period of time (does not have to happen directly at the moment of speaking)
Jenny is working in a restaurant this week.

Certain Verbs

The following verbs are usually only used in Simple Present (not in the progressive form).

v state: be, cost, fit, mean, suit                                                                 Example: We are on holiday.
v possession: belong, have:                                                                    Example: Sam has a cat.
v senses: feel, hear, see, smell, taste, touch:                                          Example: He feels the cold.
v feelings: hate, hope, like, love, prefer, regret, want, wish                     Example: Jane loves pizza.
v brain work: believe, know, think, understand                                       Example: I believe you.
v Introductory clauses for direct speech: answer, ask, reply, say       Example: “I am watching TV,” he says.  


Before you do the exercises, review the pattern of each of them. 

Click on each aspect:

Pattern: Simple Present tense of the other verbs
Pattern: Present continuous or present progressive

Exercises on simple present tense versus present continuous.

Tests on simple present tense versus present continuous.

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