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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



Hello Team,
Could you help me to understand this?
Sentence 1: Let me know when you finish the report.
Sentence 2: Let me know when you have finished the report.
Are the both sentences correct? If so, what is the difference?

Hello Donald Harrison,

Both sentences are correct and in almost all contexts there is no difference in meaning. Some people might suggest that the first sentence emphasises that the speaker wants to be informed immediately upon completion of the report, but I think both forms can emphasise this through intonation much more effectively.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter.

Why we use "is" in present tense except present continous? I mean what are the indications to use "is" as helping verb in present tense except present continious?

Hello Kashif ch,

Complete English sentences always have a verb. In the present simple, 'is' is not a helping verb -- it is a main verb.

I'm not completely sure I've answered your question. If not, please don't hesitate to ask again.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, team! I have read such a sentence "How long does it takes to form a first impression about someone’s face? " To me, it's strange that 'takes' had been spelt with s in the end. Would you comment please? Thank you!

Hello Albert aka Alan,

There should not be an 's' on the end of 'take' in that sentence as it is a question; the base form (infinitive without 'to') is required. I don't know where the sentence comes from but it is clearly a mistake, though it may simply be a typo rather than a lack of knowledge.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter! Actually the source is BBC Learning English, Feature: 6 Minute English ''Faces and first impressions'' . So I hope they did a typo ))

I have one question and i didn't know where to post it. I think talking about present is better for this.
I have read one sentence which i think is incorrect 1"Certainly, your examination language is ENGLISH."
I think it should be or 2"Certainly, your examination language WILL BE ENGLISH." or 3"Certainly, the language of your examination is ENGLISH." but not the first one. Could you please answer is the first question correct or no?
Am i right that we can use only 2 or 3 but not 1 ?

Thank you in advance!

Hello Zaur Guliyev,

None of the examples you give are incorrect. The use of 'certainly' at the beginning seems a little odd to me but without knowing the context in which the sentence is used and the intended purpose there is little more that we can say. On LearnEnglish we usually do no provide explanations of sentences like this from elsewhere precisely because it is often impossible to comment without knowing the full context in which they are used.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team