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Talking about the present


Level: intermediate

We use the present simple to talk about:

  • something that is true in the present:

They live next door to us.
He works for the Post Office.

  • something that happens regularly in the present:

The children come home from school at about four.
We often see your brother at work.

  • something that is always true:

Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.
The Nile is the longest river in Africa.

We use the present continuous to talk about:

  • something happening at the moment of speaking:

I can't hear you. I'm listening to a podcast.
Please be quiet. The children are sleeping.

  • something happening regularly in the present before and after a specific time:

I'm usually having breakfast at this time in the morning.
When I see George he's usually reading his Kindle.

  • something in the present which we think is temporary:

Michael is at university. He's studying history.
I love Harry Potter. I'm reading the last book.

  • something which is new and contrasts with a previous state:

Nowadays people are sending text messages instead of phoning.
I hear you've moved house. Where are you living now?

  • something which is changing, growing or developing:

The weather is getting colder.
Our grandchildren are growing up quickly.

  • something which happens again and again:

It's always raining in London.
They are always arguing.
George is great. He's always laughing.

Note that we normally use always with this use.

We use modal verbs:

I don't know where Henry is. He might be playing tennis.
'Who's knocking at the door?' – 'I don't know. It could be the police.'

I can speak English quite well but I can't speak French at all.
You should do your homework before you go out. 

Present simple and present continuous 1


Present simple and present continuous 2


Present simple and present continuous 3



Hello peter,

Why can't we use 'to come'?
What tips would you give to any students who are thinking 'to come' to study in UK.

Thank you.

Hello bimsara,

I can't really tell you why we 'think to do something' is not correct!  This is simply how the language works, I'm afraid.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Is my explanation correct : ' thinking ' takes ' of ' after it because ' think of ' is a phrase , but ' think to ' is not a standard phrase. So we can't use thinking to come...

Hello dipakrgandhi,

The preposition is connected to the verb here and is a lexical pattern. There is no reason for the pattern; it is essentially arbitrary and has come about through common patterns of use.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

hi peter,

It means can't we use 'to+infinitive' with thinking? Is it like that, what are the other gerunds work in this way?

I'm thinking of going there
We're thinking of staying here tonight.

Hope these sentences also wrong with to+infinitive.
Thank you.

Hi bimsara,

That is correct: the verb think is not followed by a to infinitive to express the meaning you have in mind. Verbs are followed by certain forms; think in this sense is followed by the preposition of, and verbs after prepositions always go in the -ing form.

The two sentences at the end are both correct, and neither would be correct with the to infinitive.

The prepositions that can follow verbs are best learned on a case by case basis, as there is most often no particular logic to them. If you'd like such a list, however, there are some on our Verbs & Prepositions page.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,

Thank you for your help.But i don't why "What tips would you give to any students who think of coming to study in the UK" is wrong.It's present simple form.And also what are the reduced relative clauses means?In these sentences it means without 'are' after the 'any students'?

What tips would you give to any students (are) thinking of coming to study in the UK.

Thank you.


Hi bimsara,

When think is used in the present simple, it means believe. Here, it is being used to refer to plans, and therefore must be used in a continuous form.

We're focused on answering users' questions about the content on LearnEnglish and specific questions - I'm afraid I just don't have the time to explain general topics such as reduced relative clauses in detail when there are so many other questions from other users which are directly related to the site.

I'd suggest you read our relative pronouns page, which I think will help you, and you might also want to do an internet search for "reduced relative clauses" - I'm sure there are useful explanations out there.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

You said ' I'm sure there are useful explanations out there ' : what if we use it without ' out '

Hello dipakrgandhi,

If we say 'there' then we usually have a concrete place in mind. if we say 'out there' then we are talking more generally. 'Out there' means simply 'somewhere that is not here'.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team