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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 Kamil

In general, 'out' suggests the vehicle is leaving an enclosed space, 'away' expresses that it is leaving a person or place behind and 'off' also focuses on the vehicle leaving a person a behind.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

I would like to ask about the following:
In the specific following case, which is better to use?:
Example: I always lived in Italy but now I live or I am living for 3 years in France
Can temporary, in this case, be 2-3 years or it is better to use Simple Present?
Thank you in advance

Hello agie,

Since your sentence contains 'for three years' it is describing a time which began in the past and is not finished. Present perfect is therefore needed.

You can use present perfect simple or continuous. Simple suggests that you believe that living in France is something permanent for you. Continuous suggests that you see living in France as something which will not be permanent.

I always lived in Italy but I've lived in France for 3 years now.

I always lived in Italy but I've been living in France for 3 years now.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you

The govt. authorised agencies to snoop on the computers of public. And this was followed by an editorial in the newspaper with the headline -

We don’t want no police state

What I understand from the tilte is we don't want state without policing ; that means we want police state. But the editorial writes exactly opposite of it ; it critises the government for authrising agencies to snoop on the computers of public.
I undrestand that this is double negation , but won't two negatives make it positive.

Hello dipakrgandhi,

We don't want no... is a non-standard form used in some dialects and in some forms of slang. It has the same meaning as we don't want a... or we don't want any...



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello 'LearnEnglish Team',

I am confused by the following example found in another English course: "Do you mind if I turn on the radio while you drive?"

Why not say: "Do you mind if I turn on the radio while you are driving?"

Or Similary:
Which one of the following forms is possible (or are there even others?) and what are the differences in meaning? In my opinion only the first form is correct.

1) "Do you mind if the radio is playing while you are driving?"
2) "Do you mind if the radio is playing while you drive?"
3) "Do you mind if the radio plays while you are driving?"
4) "Do you mind if the radio plays while you drive?"

Thank you very much in advance for your explanation.

Hello espe,

Both forms are possible here. The time clause with 'while' already tells us that the first action takes place during the second, so there is no difference in meaning.


As far as the four examples go, we would not generally phrase it this way, but would say 'the radio is on' or 'music plays/is playing'.

1) "Do you mind if music is playing while you are driving?"
2) "Do you mind if music is playing while you drive?"
3) "Do you mind if music plays while you are driving?"
4) "Do you mind if music plays while you drive?"


I think all of the above are grammatically possible. The continuous forms suggest an ongoing activity while the simple forms suggest a whole action. In the case of music there is little difference, but if we have another example it may be clearer:

Do you mind if I phone John while you drive/are driving?

Here, we would not use '...I am phoning...' because the act of calling takes only a moment; it could not be an ongoing activity. However, if we change the verb to 'chat' then both forms are possible:

Do you mind if I chat to/am chatting to John while you drive/are driving?



The LearnEnglish Team


Can you explain the difference between something that is 'generally true' and a fact? 'The Nile is the longest river in Africa.' is a fact and not something which is generally true. 'Generally' would imply 'not always', and I don't think there is a situation when the Nile is not the longest river in Africa.

Any clarification would be much appreciated.

Hi Johnman,

We can use the present simple for things that are always true as well as generally true. I will edit the page to make it clearer.



The LearnEnglish Team