Verb Tenses


Present continuous is used to talk about present situations which we see as short-term or temporary. We use the present simple to talk about present situations which we see as long-term or permanent.

The action is taking place at the time of speaking


  • It's raining.
  • Who is Kate talking to on the phone?
  • Look, somebody is trying to steal that man's wallet.
  • I'm not looking. My eyes are closed tightly.

The action is true at the present time but we don't think it will be true in the long term.


  • I'm looking for a new apartment.
  • He's thinking about leaving his job.
  • They're considering making an appeal against the judgment.
  • Are you getting enough sleep?

The action is at a definite point in the future and it has already been arranged.


  • I'm meeting her at 6.30.
  • They aren't arriving until Tuesday.
  • We are having a special dinner at a top restaurant for all the senior managers.
  • Isn't he coming to the dinner?


The present simple is used to talk about actions we see as long term or permanent. It is very common and very important.

We are talking about regular actions or events


  • I drive to work every day.
  • She doesn't come very often.
  • The games usually start at 8.00 in the evening.
  • What do you usually have for breakfast?

we are talking about facts


  • Water freezes at 0° C or 32° F.
  • I have three children.
  • What does this word mean?
  • //I don't have any of my original teeth left //

We are talking about future facts, usually found in a timetable or a chart.


  • The plane leaves at 5.00 tomorrow morning.
  • Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year.
  • Ramadan doesn't begin for another 2 weeks.
  • Does the class begin this week or next?

We are talking about our thoughts and feelings at the time of speaking. Notice that, although these feelings can be short-term, we use the present simple and not the present continuous.


  • I think you are wrong..
  • She doesn't want to do it..
  • They don't agree with us..
  • Do you understand what I am trying to say.

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