Present Continuous Tense
Simple Present Tense

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Present Continuous Tense or Simple Present Tense :

We see here whether to use Present Continuous Tense or Simple Present Tense.

The present continuous is mainly used to talk about actions happening at or around the moment of speaking. The simple present is mainly used for repeated actions and things which always happen or stay the same for a long time.


Present Continuous Tense

They are playing tennis. (The action is happening now at the time of speaking.)

The water is boiling. (It is happening now.)

He is working very hard this week. ((A temporary situation - happening around the moment of speaking.)

They are living in Ahmednagar. (A temporary situation - They are in Ahmednagar temporarily.)

Simple Present Tense

They play tennis every day. (It is their habit. It happens again and again. They may not be playing tennis, at the moment of speaking.)

Water boils at 100 degree Celsius. (It is a general truth, something which is true for all time.)

He works very hard. (A situation which is seen as permanent or which stays the same for a long time.)

They live in Ahmcdnagar. (A permanent situation - Ahmednagar is their home.)

Compare these two questions…

1. What is she doing? (Present continuous)
2. What does she do? (Simple present)

The first question means….What is she doing at this moment? or What is she doing these days?.

The second question means….What is her job?

Possible answers to the first question would be….she is talking on the phone. / She is taking a three-month course in computer science.

Possible answers to the second question would be….She is a nurse. / She works in a bank.

Also compare the following sentences.

I am coming from Nepal.
I am travelling from Nepal.
I come from Nepal.
I live in Nepal.
I was born in Nepal.

As you have already learnt, the simple present is the tense normally used to talk about something which happens repeatedly or say that something happens regularly at a particular time. Note that the present continuous can be used with always to talk about something which happens very often, or too often, mainly when the speaker is annoyed or unhappy about it, as in the following sentences.

He is always asking me for money.
She does little work. She is always talking.
I am always losing my keys.
The coffee is always running out.

Study the following Sentence….

Gopi is always using the Net. (Present continuous)
Gopi always uses the Net. (Simple present)

She is always telling jokes. (Present continuous)
She always tells jokes. (Simple present)


Gopi spends too much time using the Net.
This seems unreasonable to the speaker.
This sentence can mean that Gopi uses the Net regularly.

She tells jokes very often.
The speaker is annoyed about it.
She tells jokes again and again.
The speaker is perhaps happy about it.

Some verbs, mainly those which express states (= situations which remain the same), are not normally used in continuous forms. They are usually used in the simple present and not in the present continuous.

For example, it would be wrong to say….I am believing you.

You should say….I believe you. Believe CANNOT be used in the continuous tense.

Verbs which are not usually used in continuous forms include the following.

Verbs of thinking - think (= have the opinion that), suppose, believe, know, understand, imagine, remember, forget.

Verbs of feeling - like, dislike, love, hate, prefer, want, wish.

Verbs of the senses - See, hear, smell, taste.

Other verbs - have (= possess), own, belong, owe, be, seem, appear, weigh (= have weight), measure (=have length, etc), contain, consist.

Here are example sentences.

I think you are right. (NOT : am thinking)
I know the answer. (NOT : am knowing)
I remember his mobile number. (NOT : am remembering)
He likes Chinese food. (NOT : is liking)
She wants to talk to you. (NOT : is wanting)
I see a cockroach under the fridge. (NOT : am seeing)
I hear somebody tapping the door. (NOT: am hearing)

CANNOT is often used with see and hear instead of the simple present, especially in English.

These grapes taste sour. (NOT : are tasting)
They have two cars. (NOT : are having)
She seems unhappy about it. (NOT : is seeming)
This parcel weighs 5 kilos. (NOT : is weighing)
The cloth measures 2.25 meters. (NOT : is measuring)

Note that some of the above verbs can be used in the continuous tense with a change of meaning.

We are thinking of going to Simla for the holidays. (think of = consider the idea of)

I am tasting the soup to see if it needs more salt. (taste = find out the flavor by eating or drinking)

They are having lunch at the moment. (have = eat)

He is weighing the parcel. (weigh= find out the weight of)

She is measuring the cloth. (measure = find out the length of)

Compare the use of be in the simple and continuous tenses.

He is stupid. (generally)

He is being stupid. (He is behaving in a stupid way at the moment.)

As in the above sentence, we can use BE in the continuous tense to talk about temporary behaviour.

The verbs look (= seem), feel, hurt and ache can be used in cither the simple or continuous tense without any difference in meaning.

He looks very cheerful today.
He is looking very cheerful today.

I feel tired.
I am feeling tired.

My leg hurts.
My legs are hurting.

This tooth aches.
This tooth is aching.

Present Continuous Tense or Simple Present Tense

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