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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 Albert aka Alan,

There should not be an 's' on the end of 'take' in that sentence as it is a question; the base form (infinitive without 'to') is required. I don't know where the sentence comes from but it is clearly a mistake, though it may simply be a typo rather than a lack of knowledge.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter! Actually the source is BBC Learning English, Feature: 6 Minute English ''Faces and first impressions'' . So I hope they did a typo ))

I have one question and i didn't know where to post it. I think talking about present is better for this.
I have read one sentence which i think is incorrect 1"Certainly, your examination language is ENGLISH."
I think it should be or 2"Certainly, your examination language WILL BE ENGLISH." or 3"Certainly, the language of your examination is ENGLISH." but not the first one. Could you please answer is the first question correct or no?
Am i right that we can use only 2 or 3 but not 1 ?

Thank you in advance!

Hello Zaur Guliyev,

None of the examples you give are incorrect. The use of 'certainly' at the beginning seems a little odd to me but without knowing the context in which the sentence is used and the intended purpose there is little more that we can say. On LearnEnglish we usually do no provide explanations of sentences like this from elsewhere precisely because it is often impossible to comment without knowing the full context in which they are used.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much for your answer. The context is that it is written in e-mail two days before exam.
If you can't comment on this i understand.
Thank you again for your response.

Hello Zaur,

I agree with Peter -- although 'certainly' is a bit odd, all three of those sentences are fine. You could also say 'Your exam will be in English'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I have a question regarding two of examples:
"The children come home from school at about four." - present simple
"I’m usually getting ready for work at eight o’clock." - present continuous
Both are happening regulary and we have a given time.
If i will say: I get ready for work at eight o'clock. - that will be mistake?

Hello Karolka,

No, it would not be a mistake but the meaning would be slightly different. The present continuous form here means something like 'I'm usually in the middle of this action at...' while the present simple means 'I do this action at...'

Generally this is not a hugely important distinction, but sometimes it can be important.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Ah, such a perculiarity! Thank you!

Hello there,

Can you help me understand the difference between these two sentences?

My wife usually goes in to the office, but she is working at home today.

My wife usually goes in to the office, but she is working from home today.

I think they mean the same thing.

Kind Regards,