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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



Dear Rashed,
There are some programs that try to correct grammar errors, but they aren't perfect in three main ways:

  1. They miss a lot of errors. I tested a few websites (I searched for 'grammar checker') by pasting in a student sentence and they found some, but not all the errors.
  2. They don't understand the meaning. Sometimes the corrections are the right ones, but other times they think that you are trying to say something different from what you really want to say and so give the wrong corrections.
  3. They don't explain why you made a mistake. They might give a rule, but that's not the same as explaining clearly what you don't understand and answering your questions.

I'm afraid the best way is still to find a teacher! As for your example sentence, have a look at our page about sentences with wish. It should answer your question.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

I want to improve my wriitng skill. How can I improve it ?

Hello Ajjumaestro,
There isn't one simple way to improve your writing. Firstly, you need to think about the type of writing you need to do. Is it emails to friends, essays in school, reports for a business etc.? Then, you need to work out which areas of your writing you need to improve. It might be that your sentences are not well connected together or you use vocabulary wrongly or it might be another problem.
When you have a clearer idea of what your goal is and how you need to improve, then you will be able to work on specific areas of your writing.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi there! Hope to find all of you well.

Could you explain me the difference between

"to talk about something happening regularly in the present:

The children come home from school at about four"


"something happening regularly in the present before and after a given time:
I’m usually getting ready for work at eight o’clock".

Look forward to hearing from you,

Sincerely your, Anna

I need to improve my speaking. how can i practice it ?

Hello parackrama!
Practising your spoken English can be tricky, but here are a few suggestions.

  • Use the comments section here to practice grammar and vocabulary. It's writing, but still useful.
  • Try to record yourself. Choose some of the discussion questions and go to a site like, record your answers, and playback your recording – what mistakes did you make? What do you like about your answer?
  • Keep listening to our recordings. One of the best ways to improve speaking... is listening!
  • Finally, remember you don't have to have a native speaker to talk to. Maybe a friend or colleague wants to talk English – ask around, and find someone who wants to practice.

Good luck, and keep working on it!
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

hi every body..
are there any marks which help us to know which tens we use in the sentence?.if we use present simple or present continuous.

Hello Saby,
I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'marks' - this page gives you some advice on when we use present simple and present continuous. One important thing to remember in English is that tense and verb forms are not always 100% fixed by the situation. They can also be the choice of the speaker, who might decide to focus on one aspect of a situation.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Some words are used with one spelling as nouns and another spelling as verb,such as 'advice' and 'advise', 'practice' and 'practise'.Are there any other words like that? Kindly let me know if there are any.

Hello Raashid,
You asked the same question on another page. Please make comments one time only. We have many comments to read and answer and it saves us time if everyone writes the same comment once.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team