Difference between Present Simple and Present Continuous

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Today we are going to talk about the difference between Present Simple and Present Continuous. So, when do we use these tenses? Let’s go through some examples.

If reading is not your thing, scroll down and watch a video lesson.

Table of Contents

Present Simple – Examples

I play tennis every day. She plays tennis every day.
I don’t play golf. He doesn’t play golf.
Do you drive to work? Does he drive to work?

Present Continuous – Examples

I am playing tennis at the moment. She is playing tennis at the moment.
I’m not playing golf. He’s not playing golf.
Are you driving to work tomorrow? Is he driving to work tomorrow?

Difference between Present Simple and Present Continuous

We use the Present Simple:

To talk about states or things that are always true.

  • I live in London.
  • The sun rises in the East.
  • What do babies eat?

To talk about habits and routines.

  • I go to the cinema once a week.
  • He gets up at 6.30 a.m. every day.
  • Sarah works in a bank.

To talk about timetables and schedules.

  • My plane takes off at 2 p.m. tomorrow.
  • The train leaves from platform 7.

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Difference between Present Simple and Present Continuous

We use the Present Continuous:

To talk about things happening at this time or around this time. These are temporary situations.

  • What are you doing? I am watching TV.
  • My sister is living with me until she can find a new apartment of her own.

To talk about plans and arrangements. This will refer to future events.

  • I’m meeting Deborah tomorrow.
  • She’s leaving at 6 p.m.

To describe changes.

  • The UK economy is getting stronger.
  • Oil prices are falling.

Non-continuous Verbs in English

Some verbs that express state not action are not used in the continuous form. These include:

Verbs of the senses:

  • see
  • hear
  • feel
  • taste
  • smell

Verbs of perception:

  • know
  • remember
  • forget
  • recognise
  • understand
  • notice
  • realise
  • seem
  • sound
  • think

List of Non-continuous Verbs in English

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Verbs which express likes and dislikes:

  • love
  • like
  • hate
  • dislike
  • enjoy

Other verbs:

  • include
  • matter
  • need
  • belong
  • own
  • appear
  • want
  • have

Some verbs have more than one meaning and are not usually used in the continuous form with one of those meanings.

For example:

to have = to possess
to think = to have an opinion
to see = to understand

Find out what typical signal words are used with Present Continuous

I hope this short post has helped you better understand English Grammar Rules and the difference between Present Simple and Present Continuous.

I would also recommend to watch this short video where I explain the difference between Present Simple and Present Continuous and provide examples:

Difference between Present Simple and Present Continuous - Video Lesson

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More Information

For more information on English Grammar Rules, check out the following links:

When to use INTO and ONTO in English

Uncountable and Plural Nouns

Perhaps, possibly and maybe