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 saima khan,

Continuous forms are used to describe something which is in progress at a certain time. For present continuous, this time is the time of speaking.  This means that the action is already in progress and either goes up to the moment of speaking, or continues past it.

In both sentences you quote, the action started before the person began speaking and continued:

I can’t hear you. I’m listening to my iPod. [the person began listening before and is still listening now]
Be quiet. The children are sleeping. [the children began sleeping before and are still sleeping now]

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter M 
Can you please give me some examples of something happening after the moment of speaking so i can understand the difference between before and after the speaking more clearly.

Hello saima khan,

If we assume that the moment of speaking is 'live' - i.e. it is not part of the dialogue of a story - then events which are complete before that time would be describing past time and would use a past tense (see here for more information and examples), which events which happen only after the moment of speaking would be describing future time and so would generally use one of the forms we have for talk about future time (see here for more information and examples).

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Sorry Peter M but my confusion is still here and i can't understand this :(
we use present continuous for something happening before and after the moment of speaking:
I can’t hear you. I’m listening to my iPod. (I can understand this example after your reply that its action before speaking and its clear for me.
but i want to know about in what examples we use present continuous for something happening after the moment of speaking.

Hello saima khan,

We can use the present continuous with future meaning when we are talking about arrangements - for more information on this and examples please click the link I provided in my first reply (talking about the future).  I can only think that this is what you are referring to when you say 'something happening after the moment of speaking'); however, if you have something else in mind then please provide an example and I'll be happy to explain it for you.

For more information about continuous forms in general and how they are used, try this link.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter M
Thank you so much. my problem is now solve If i m not wrong i guess these are the examples of my questions that something happening after the moment of speaking. let me know if I am wrong. 
We can use the present continuous for plans or arrangements:
I’m playing football tomorrow.
They are coming to see us tomorrow.
We’re having a party at Christmas.
Please also identify the mistakes in my this post if any, regarding grammar and tenses. 

Hi saima khan,

The three sentences above are all correct - great work!

If you have questions about another sentence, you are welcome to ask about it in another comment, but please know that we aren't able to correct every sentence in every comment that users post.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Kirk

Hi teachers
I have a problem in English grammar when I speak english I confused about grammar and which verb form I should use please give me some advice to improve my skills and thank you...

Hi n87,

As it sounds like you've discovered, the English verbal system takes time and practice to learn to use correctly. It's much easier to progress if you take it piece by piece, and it's also important to practice, practice and practice again.

Therefore, I'd recommend that you focus your efforts on one particular area that you find difficult. Learn about it and practice is as much as you can, and then if you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask us them. The more specific your question is, the more we can help you.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team