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Present Continuous or Present Simple? Pre-Intermediate

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Today's lesson is by Caroline

What is the difference between these two tenses and when do we use each one? Here's a brief explanation of present simple and present continuous as well as a quick test to see how much you remember!

Present Simple:

  • Talks about routines e.g. 'I wake up at eight every morning'.
  • Describes things that are repeated or permanent e.g. 'I live with my boyfriend'.

Present Continuous:

  • Talks about things that are happening now or around now e.g. 'I am studying Spanish'.
  • To talk about plans and future arrangements e.g. 'I am going to the cinema tonight'.


Some verbs that are called state verbs are NEVER used with the present continuous. e.g. love, like, know, need, want, hate, know etc.

Present Simple and Present Continuous

  • 1. She (do) ballet 3 times a week
  • 2. I (read) this amazing book at the moment!
  • 3. I really (want) an ice-cream. It’s so hot today.
  • 4. They (wait) for their Dad to take them to school.
  • 5. Glyn (act) in a play at the National Theatre.
  • 6. Glyn(go) to the theatre every week.
  • 7. Slow down! You(drive) too fast!
  • 8. I (take) public transport when I travel around Colombia. It’s cheaper.
  • 9. I (go) to hospital again tonight.
  • 10. We (need) to go dancing tonight to relax!