Learn English Grammar – present simple or continuous?

We use the Present Simple

  • for regular actions or events
    I watch TV most evenings.
  • facts
    The sun rises in the east
  • facts know about the future
    The plane leaves at 5.00 in the morning.
  • thoughts and feelings about the time of speaking
    I don’t understand.

We use the Present Continuous

  • at the time of speaking (‘now’)
    I’m watching a movie on TV.
  • things which are true at the moment but not always
    I’m looking for a new job.
  • present plans for the future
    I’m taking my husband to New York for his birthday.

Look at these sentences:

  • I usually don’t drink coffee but I’m having one this morning because there is nothing else.
  • I often drive to work but I’m taking the train this morning because my car is in for repair.
  • I’m thinking about dying my hair blonde but I don’t think my wife will be very happy about it.
  • My parents live in New York but I’m just visiting.

Notice how in all these examples we use the present continuous to talk about events which are temporary/limited in time and the present simple to talk about events which are habits/permanent.

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