English Grammar

Differences between Present Simple and Present Continuous


The main difference of the Present Simple vs Present Continuous, lies in the use that we give it . The present simple is used to talk about habitual actions or situations that are permanent. Instead, the present continuous indicates events that are happening as we speak. Differences between Present Simple and Present Continuous

Another difference is the way we structure the sentence at each time . On the one hand, the present simple has the main verb in the present or its infinitive form without the “to”. But the present continuous uses the auxiliary verb “to be” followed by the main verb in the present participle (-ing).

Present Simple (Present Simple)

It is built with the main verb in its infinitive form without the “to” . Taking into account that if we are talking about the third person singular, we must add an “–s” at the end of the verb. The grammatical structure of the sentence would look like this:

Subject + verb in the infinitive without the “to” + complement.


  • build houses. 
  • He starts his English classes at 7 am 

When do we use the Present Simple?

To talk about a succession of events, daily situations, routines and habits :

  • We take a cab to the airport, check the flight and get on the airplane. 
  • She drinks milk for breakfast. 
  • get the bus every morning at 6:00 am.

When giving instructions and directions :

  • Walk two hundred meters, cross to the right and then turn left. 
  • Go along the street till you arrive to the church right on the corner. 

When we talk about scheduled events (present or future) or the stipulated time for a schedule or program :

  • The bus leaves at 10:15 and arrives in Manchester at 15:55. 
  • Ana gives you back your notebook on Tuesday. 
  • The convention starts at 6:30 pm 

Present Continuous

It is formulated with the auxiliary verb “to be” and the main verb in the present participle (-ing). The grammatical structure of the sentence would look like this:

Subject + “to be” + verb in present participle (-ing) + complement.


  • Mark is listening to pop music. 
  • They are reading an interesting book. 

When do we use the Present Continuous?

It is used to describe actions that are taking place at that precise moment , that is, right now:

  • She is writing a letter to her fiancé. 

Describe actions that are happening in this period of time and reflect a trend :

  • Leonardo is still working in Amazon. 

To talk about a future action or event that has been prepared or planned :

  • My brothers are coming with us to the party. 

When we talk about appointments and personal schedules :

  • At 7 pm we are meeting Jane’s aunt in Liverpool. 

Present Simple vs Present Continuous: Temporary Markers

Time markers are words that identify the time in which the sentence should be expressed . Some can be used with the present simple and others with the present continuous, we will show you what they are:

Temporary markers with simple present

  • usually (normally)
  • then
  • sometimes
  • rarely
  • often
  • normally
  • never (never)
  • first
  • every day/month 
  • always

Temporary markers with present continuous

  • at the moment (in this moment)
  • now
  • right now
  • Listen! 
  • Look! 
  • today 
  • this week
  • this summer 
  • this year 

Use of Verbs

There are verbs that can only be used in the present simple but not in the present continuous, these are some of them:

Stative verbs or state verbs: be * (to be), cost (to cost), fit (to look good, to fit), mean (to mean), remain (to remain), suit (to fit).

  • They are on a trip. (They’re traveling.)

 Verbs that indicate belonging or possession: belong (belong), have * (have).

  • This property belongs to the family. 

Verbs that refer to the senses: feel * (feel), hear (hear), see * (see), smell * (smell), taste * (taste), touch (touch).

  • As we get older, we tend to feel the cold more. 

Verbs that speak of emotions: hate (hate), hope (hope), like (like), love (love), prefer (prefer), regret (regret), want (want), wish (desire).

  • prefer white wine to red. 

Verbs of recognition and thought: believe, know, realize, recognize, seem, think *, understand.

  • The boys didn’t realize the danger they were in. 

Clauses of direct speech: answer, ask, reply, say.

  • “You must get some sleep”, Kate’s father says. 

* These verbs acquire different meanings depending on whether we use them in the present simple or present continuous. Differences between Present Simple and Present Continuous

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