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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




i need help to understand the usage of "been" in present prefect tense

Example : Is must have been easy

Is above example comes under present perfect or present perfect continuous?

Hello bharathkumarreddy,

I think the explanation on our modals + have page will help you understand this. In the phrase you ask about, which I think should be 'It must have been easy', 'been' is a past participle. Other past participles, e.g. 'seemed', could go there as well.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello mahmoodsalah,

No, 'continually' and 'regularly' don't mean the same thing. You can see definitions and examples of both words by searching for them in the Cambridge Dictionaries Online searchbox on the lower right side of this page. The main difference between the two is that 'regularly' has the idea of intervals, whereas 'continuous' is without such interruptions.

The present tense page is more general than the talking about the present page, and so does not go into as much detail. 

I hope this answers your question, but if not, please let us know.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter
I've already joined to this site and it's appreciated for me to be one of the members who wants to improve her English knowledge. My questions is that is it possible to use of present simple tense to describe the "certain future"???

Hello rita7,

The present simple can be used to talk about the future in limited situations. As our talking about the future page explains, it can be used to speak about a timetable. It can also have a future meaning in a subordinate clause, e.g. 'I'll call you when I arrive', which is explained on our verbs in time clauses page.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

I think it would be also helpful if you add some keywords for the present simple such as often, always,never, everyday, usually&sometimes. some keywords for the present continuous such as look, listen, now, at the moment, still& at present
they will help learners know when to use each tense. thanks

Hello Sarah Fathy,

Thank you for your suggestion. The problem with these words is that they can be used with many different verb forms - past, present and future forms, simple and continuous, perfective and so on. I think trying to like them to any particular verb forms would not be very helpful because of this.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team


my yesterday

here i would like to ex plane my yesterday. that was a day make me explainable that's why it was a celebration with my college friends. we are five members and we had celebrated lots of moments after college life. we had completed our college life since 2011. whenever we met, we celebrate well and when lots of fun and recollected our memories then those we recreated. so that we would love our get together but yesterday not only have fun that was day our friend who one will be going to Italy, so the day also have tears

Mr peter could you help me what are the mistakes above my tweet and please suggests to me what kind of things i need to make up on my English.

Hello vishak mv,

I'm afraid that we are too small a team with too much work to be able to offer corrections on users' writing. But reading through your text quickly, I'd recommend you revise the verb tenses you use - there are some that are correct and others that are not - and the use of verb tenses with the word 'since'.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team