Present Simple vs Present Continuous

Present simple vs present continuous
I wait for the bus everyday.

One problem when learning grammar is understanding the difference between two tenses, in this case we are talking about present simple vs present continuous . In this post I am going to help you understand the difference between the simple present and the present continuous (or progressive).

What do you use simple present for?

We use simple present for:

  • Habits or routines.
  • Facts.
  • Non progressive verbs ( e.g. I know you. not I knowing you.)

Most often you will see present simple used to express things that are habits with words like usually and often. Also, we use it to talk about things that are permanent.

What do you use present continuous for?

We use present continuous for:

  • Actions in progress now.
  • An action that occurs over a short period of time, so something that is temporary.
  • A planned future action.

Most often present continuous is used to talk about something that is happening now.

Present Simple vs Present Continuous

To help you understand the difference between these two tenses I am going to give you some examples.

  • e.g. My son behaves well. vs My son is behaving well.

“My son behaves well” means that the son always behaves well. That is a habit for the  son. It is the permanent situation.

“My son is behaving well” means that this particular time the son is behaving well. It is not the normal habit of the son. It is a temporary situation.

In other words, simple present is used for permanent actions, and present continuous is used for temporary actions.

Here is another example to solidify what you have learned.
  • e.g. I work on the tenth floor. vs Today I am working tenth floor.

“I work on the tenth floor” means that is the habit of the person.  It is a permanent situation.

“Today I am working tenth floor”  means that it is a temporary situation. It is not the normal situation.

Why do I need to know this?

This information is important to know because many tests will try to confuse you by mixing these two tenses. The main thing to look out for is words like usually, often and every + day/year/month. These words show that habit which means you need to use simple present.



Still having trouble understanding the difference? Leave me a comment and I will help you.

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Iain Robson

A teacher, a learner, and all round nice guy. I love talking to people through social media, and in real life. Feel free to connect with me on twitter