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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 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

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

 which of the following sentences is suitable for the following situation:
- I started preparing the exam and I want to tell that to my friend. So, should I say " I started preparing the exam" or " I have started preparing exam". what is the difference between them?
thanks in advance

Hello zagrus,

The sentences need some alteration:

'I've started preparing for the exam'


'I've started preparing the exam'

Both of these are correct sentences, but with different meanings.  We use the present perfect as there is no time reference (you could say 'I started preparing for the exam last week', for example).  The 'for' is important: in the first sentence, you are a student and you are going to take the exam; in the second sentence (with 'for'), you are a teacher and you are writing an exam which your students will take.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter,
I'd like to express my gratitude for your response. It is very helpful. This site can be an excellent source for me to teach.
I hope you don't mind if I often ask you questions related to English teaching.
For your information, my school is going to implement new curriculum (we call it Curriculum 2013). Based on the curriculum, teachers are asked to teach the material as stated in the syllabus set by the government. One of the materials in the syllabus is "spoken and written text about intention to do something".
to express intention can I use the following: would like to,will and, be going to?

Hello eribarongan,
You are welcome to ask questions - it's one of the things we're here for!  
All of the phrases you mention can be used for expressing intention.  There are others, of course, such as 'plan to', 'aim to', present continuous and so on, and the forms you mention also have other uses, so a clear context is important.
Best wishes and good luck with your new curriculum!
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Admin,
I am an EFL teacher and I need your help. I have to teach grammar about "should" in the form of simple, continuous, and present perfect.
where can I find the explanation about "should"?
Can "should" be in the continuous form?
Please give me example.

Hello eribarongan,
There is no continuous form for modal verbs such as 'should'.  Modal verbs have a different set of rules governing their form than regular verbs - you can find more information about them here.
When teaching modal verbs it is important to focus on the meaning, as each modal verb can be used with a number of meanings in different contexts.  'Should', for example, can be used for giving advice and for deduction, amongst others.  Take a look at the pages following the link above for the various uses of different modal verbs, including 'should'.
You might also be interested in our sister-site for teachers of English.
Best wishes and good luck!
The LearnEnglish Team