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.

Will vs Be Going To

I think I will drive a tractor this weekend.

Will vs be going to

We use will when we want to talk about something that is in the near future. If we make a decision when we are talking to someone, then we use will.

I am going to have a great day on the farm.

be going to vs will

We use be going to when we made the decision before the time of talking. One way that helps people understand the difference between the two ways we can use the future is by assigning them percentages.

  • e.g. I think I will drive a tractor this weekend.
    • This sentence is only partially planned, so we can assign a percentage of 10% planned.
  • e.g. I am going to have a good day.
    • This sentence has some prior intention or decision, so we can say it is 50% planned.
N.B I use the percentages to help people understand the difference between will and be going to. You won’t find them used in a grammar book.

Will and be going to can mean the same thing sometimes. They have the same meaning when we them  to talk about predictions about the future

  • e.g. It is going to rain tomorrow = It will rain tomorrow.

In the example above, both are making predictions about the future.

N.B When an examiner askes you a question in an oral exam, be sure to respond in the same way.

e.g. What are you going to do this weekend?

  • I am going to travel to Lindsay, Ontario this weekend.

It is important to respond in the same verb tense that the question was asked because you need to show that you understand the question, and that you can respond in the same verb tense.

For more information on the simple future you can check out this post. Also, for more on verb tenses in general you can check out the verb tense overview.

To practice will and be going to, you can check

Present Perfect vs Past Perfect

Present perfect vs Past perfect
What is the difference between past perfect and present perfect?

Present perfect vs past perfect  is difficult to understand at times. The most common question that I get is, “What is the difference?”

Check out this post and this one if you need some review of the past perfect and present perfect.

Look at past perfect

Past perfect focuses on events that finished in the past. These events do not continue until now.

  • e.g. I had watched my favourite movie ten times before the DVD stopped working.

In the example above, both of the events started and finished  in the past. The person watched the DVD ten times. After that, the DVD stopped working.  Remember that when you use the past perfect you are trying to relate two events together in the past. Past perfect indicates which event happened first in time. In a timeline you would see past perfect then past.

Let’s look at the present perfect

Present perfect normally has some connection or relevance to the present.

  • e.g. I have watched my favourite movie many times, and my DVD is still working.
In the example above, we know that the person watched the movie many times and will continue to do so until the DVD stops working. The reason the person is using the present perfect in this example is because it is relevant to the conversation.

Present perfect vs past perfect Summary

Here is a present perfect vs past perfect chart that will help summarize the information.

Present perfect Past perfect
Used to talk about something that started in the past and continues until now.e.g. I have worked for Ford for ten years.

  • I still work there now.

Used to talk about events that finished in the past but have relevance now.

e.g. I have seen Avatar.

  • I saw Avatar at some unspecified time in the past. It is relevant to the conversation that is happening.
Used to talk about something that started and finished in the past. There is no connection with right now.e.g. I had seen the first Star Wars movie three times before the second movie came out.

  • Both of these events started and finished in the past. They do not continue until now.

If you are looking for some practice in either of these tenses, check out

Do you have any confusing examples that you would like clarified? Leave a comment below with your example.