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Present Simple and Present Continuous

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In today's lesson we will be discussing the differences between the present simple and the present continuous. It is a common mistake for English learners to mix these two tenses up, but after this lesson you will know when to use the correct tense. Read the explanation and the examples and then complete the sentences with the correct verb.

Present Simple

The present simple is used to talk about facts or general truths:
The sun heats the atmosphere.
The heart pumps blood through the body

It also talks about habits for example, always, usually, often, sometimes, never:
We usually play soccer.
You always work.

It's also used to talk about schedules or programs:
The train leaves in an hour.

Another useful rule to consider when using the present simple is the form of the verb with the 3rd person singular:

When the verb ends in s, or a similar sound such as sh, ch or x add es:

Watch > watches

Dash > dashes

When the verb ends in o, we also add an es:

Go > goes

Do > does

When the verb ends in y, and it is preceded by a consonant, we have to change the y to i, and then add es:

Fly > flies

Study > studies

Present Continuous

The present continuous can be used to express different things, and in different circumstances:

To refer to actions that are developing at the time of speaking.

Go away, I am reading a book! (right now)

We also use the present continuous to describe things that happen around the time we are talking.

She is studying English. (not just now)

We can use the present continuous to refer to actions that have taken place with some frequency.

You are always working. (it happens frequently)

When we speak of a future action that we know will be done. In this case we must mention the time in which we will complete the action.

I am going to Madrid next week.

Put the verb in the correct tense by following the rules above:

  • 1. I ___ a very interesting book.

  • 2. Phillip always ___ six hours a day.

  • 3. Tomorrow we ___ a movie at the cinema.

  • 4. Where ___ now?

  • 5. He ___ you very well.

  • 6. What will they do if he ___ late?

  • 7. Her husband ___ porridge for breakfast.

  • 8. Your flight ___ at 13.30 from gate 4.