Present Simple or Present Continuous?


The simple present tense is often confused with the present continuous tense. This page will explain when to use each one.

1. The simple present tense

The simple present tense is used for two main types of action:

Habits Actions which happen regularly (for example, every day or every week)
States Things which do not often change (for example, opinions and conditions)

Some examples will help to make this clearer:

Type of action Examples Explanations
Habit Young-Mi goes to class every day. “Every day” is a habit.
It rains a lot in Vancouver. This means that it rains often.
Santos always talks about his family. “Always” means this is a habit.
Jerry spends Christmas with his parents. This implies that he spends Christmas with his parents every year.
State Bianca lives in Florida. This is a state, because it doesn't change.
Jean-Paul has red hair. Someone's hair colour doesn't usually change.
Martin likes chocolate. When we like something, usually we will always like it.
Anna believes in God. Beliefs and opinions are states. They don't often change.

2. The present continuous tense

The present continuous tense is used for two main types of action:

A temporary action happening now Something which is going on right now (but it will stop in the future)
A definite plan for the future Something we intend to do, usually in the near future

Here are some examples:

Type of action Examples Explanations
Temporary action happening right now John is winning the game. Right now, John is winning, but the game isn't finished yet.
It's raining outside. It's raining right now (but it may stop soon).
Soraya's working in the library. She's working there right now.
Sihol is spending Christmas with his family. He's spending Christmas with his family right now, this year. (Maybe next year he won't.)
Definite plan for the future I'm playing soccer tomorrow. This plan is already arranged and definite.
Sarah's leaving for San Francisco on Friday. She has probably already bought her ticket.
The Olympics are taking place here next year. This is already certain.
I'm having a party next week. All the plans have been made.

When you are sure that you understand the lesson, you can continue with the exercises.