1. We use the present simple:

  • to talk about something happening regularly in the present:

The children come home from school at about four.
We often see your brother at work.

  •  to talk about something happening continually in the present:

They live next door to us.
He works for the Post Office.

  •  to talk about things which are generally or always true:

Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.
The Nile is the longest river in Africa.

2. We use the present continuous:

  • to show that something in the present is temporary:

We are living in a rented flat at present.
My wife usually goes in to the office, but she is working at home today.

  • for something happening regularly in the present before and after a given time:

I’m usually getting ready for work at eight o’clock.
When I see George he’s always reading his newspaper.

  • for something happening before and after the moment of speaking:

I can’t hear you. I’m listening to my iPod.
Be quiet. The children are sleeping.

3. We use modal verbs

  • to talk about the present when we are not sure of something:

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.

 

 

Exercise

Comments

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?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,

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.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

' First come, first served ' :
Here, 'come' is in V1 form or V3 form ? I think the tense in both the parts of sentence should be same, so come is in V3 form.

What do you say sir?

Hi dipakrgandhi,

'served' is a past participle (V3) form, which in this case doesn't refer to time but rather makes the meaning passive. 'come' isn't really conjugated here, I'd say, but I suppose you could call it the base form (V1).

The longer version of this would be something like 'The first one who comes is the first one who will be served', but this is simplified into 'First come, first served'.

'First came, first served' would sound quite strange to my ears, at least, unless it were used in a humorous way.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

This is the first sentence from the letter I have written to Electricity Distribution Company :

I have been billed for the above referred consumer number and address for the month of November 2018 despite my service been withdrawn in October 2018 itself.

I have littele doubt about the part of the sentence despite : ... despite my service ' been ' withdrawn in October 2018 itself.

Can I write : ... service been withdrawn... ; 'been' without preceding 'has' , or should have I written 'despite the fact that
my service has been withdrawn.'
Further, can we ever use ' been ' without have ,has or had ?

Hello dipakrgandhi,

In a letter or email, I would recommend that you use 'despite the fact that my account ended on 31 October 2018'. In a letter like this one, it would be unusual to omit the auxiliary verb.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you sir.

Thanks a lot again,Kirk,for very helpful advice!

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