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.






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

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

Dear Krik
thanks a lot for your help. it was completely useful.

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


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