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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



Hi Hopefinder,

No, there is no real difference in meaning. The present continuous could suggest you are imagining that rainy day and the present simple is more matter-of-fact, but in the end they mean the same thing.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

"all we can do is watch and wait".... why is there not infinitive form(to watch)or ing form(watching) in this example?

Hi manuel24,

It's possible to use 'to' ('All we can do is to watch ...') but it's much more common not to use 'to' here. As far as I know, this is just due to usage, i.e. this is just how people speak. This is a kind of cleft sentence -- perhaps reading a bit more about how these work would be interesting for you. 

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot Peter. Nice explanation . Have a good time.

Hi Kirk and Peter,
Most of the times in movies I find dialogues like
1.Miguel! I give you my blessings.
2.(on the stage to the audience) Now, I give you Mr Bunny the talking rabbit.
Why simple present tense is uesd here not continuous. I don't understand the grammar here. Please explain it.

Hello jitu_jaga,

To answer this, first it is helpful ot be clear on the concepts behind simple and continuous forms.

We use continuous forms when an action is in progress. In other words, if I say 'I am standing' then the standing began a moment before and has not yet finished; I am in the middle of it. We use simple forms when the action either is or is perceived to be a single event - one thing rather than an ongoing process.


Most verbs have some kind of process and so can have continuous aspect. Certain verbs, however, cannot. Verbs conveying feelings and emotions such as love, like, hate and so on generally do not have continuous forms, for example.

The is another group of verbs which are not used in continuous forms. These are verbs which declare an action. In other words, the action is done by speaking. For example, the verb 'promise' is very rarely used with continuous aspect because the way we make a promise is by saying 'I promise'. In other words, the act of promising starts when we begin speaking and ends when we finish speaking. There is no process and no action which began before and continues. This is the reason that in a traditional wedding the two people getting married say 'I do' not 'I am doing', and why in a court a witness says 'I swear to tell the truth' not 'I am swearing to tell the truth'.


In your first example, the phrase 'I give you my blessings' is another instance of this. How does the speaker give his or her blessings? By saying the words.

Your second example is similar. The phrase 'I give you' means 'I present to you' and, again, the speaker does this by saying the words.


I hope that helps to clarify it for you.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for your fast answer. I've got another question.
Can we start a sentence with this expression ' in the morning/evening'?
Eg. In the evening, I do my homework at 6 o'clock and read a book at 8.
Thank you.

Hi Marua,

Yes, that is perfectly correct.

You're welcome!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I've got 1 question about linking words used in the present. Is it appropriate to use 'after this/that' when it comes to daily routines?
'I get up at 8 o'clock and have breakfast. After this/after that I go to school...'
I know that 'then' works better here, but what about 'after this/ that'?

Hi Marua,

Yes, that's fine, I'd say, though, as you say, 'then' is more common. 'after that' is better than 'after this' -- we usually use 'that' when speaking about something's that's just finished.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team