Present Tense: Present simple vs Present Continuous

1. Present simple

Present simple is used to talk about

2. Present continuous

Present continuous is used to talk about

3. Present simple vs Present continuous

When considering use of Present simple or Present continuous use the following rules

A. Routine vs moment of speaking

  1. John works for computer magazine. Every month he writes a computer market review.
  2. Send this information to John. He needs it for a current review he's writing now.



    In 1, we are talking about John's usual responsibility that he does as routine.
    In 2, we are talking about something he is doing at the moment of speaking.

B. General activity vs current projects
  1. I work for Open University. We provide Internet based education courses.
  2. At the moment we are preparing a videoconferencing course on mathematics.



    In 1, we are talking about a general activity.
    In 2, we are talking about a specific current project.

C. Permanent vs temporary situation
  1. Peter deals with enquiries about our book sales.
  2. I am dealing with enquiries about our last published book while Peter is away on training courses.
D. Facts vs slow changes
  1. As a rule, cheap imports lead to greater competition.
  2. Cheap imports are leading to the closure of a number of inefficient factories.
E. Stative verbs

There are a number of verbs which describe states rather than actions. They are not normally used in the continuous form.
Verbs of thinking believe, doubt, guess, imagine, know, realise, suppose, understand
Verbs of the senses hear, smell, sound, taste
Verbs of possession belong to, have (meaning possess), own, possess
Verbs of emotion dislike, hate, like, love, prefer, regret, want, wish
Verbs of appearance appear, seem
Other contain, depend on, include, involve, mean measure, weigh, figure

I'm sorry, I don't understand what you mean.

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1999. Compiled by Yuri Demchenko.