The difference between the present simple and the present progressive

We use two tenses to talk about the present:

The present simple and the present progressive or the present continuous.

The present simple is used when we talk about habitual actions, permanent situations or facts:

I go to work every day – habitual action. We use frequency adverbs with the present simple.

Sometimes, often, never, rarely, always, usually

The order of the sentence is as follows:

I, sometimes go to the cinema.

Subject – frequency adverb – verb – object

Some time expressions such as every day or sometimes can go at the beginning or at the end of an affirmative sentence.

Every day I go to work or I go to work every day – affirmative

I don’t go to work every day – negative

Do you go to work every day? – interrogative

The verb work is conjugated as follows:

I work

You work

He/she/it works

We work

They work

We add “S” or “ES” if there is a vowel when we use the third person singular. It is important that you pronounce the “S” otherwise it might be difficult for the listener to understand who you are talking about:

He swims every day or he goes to work every day

She works in a bank

It works very well

We use the present simple when we talk about facts or permanent situations:

I live in London (it is a permanent situation)

Rome is the capital of Italy (it is a fact)

We use the present progressive to talk about actions happening NOW or temporary situations

I am writing/I’m writing – exactly now – affirmative

I am not writing/I’m not writing – negative

Am I writing – interrogative

We use contracted forms when speaking and full forms when we write, especially in formal or academic writing.

I am working on this project (it is a temporary situation). The project will last only 4 weeks.

I am living here for now (the contract will expire in 6 months).

Now practise these tenses by doing the exercises in your grammar book or online. You can google search for many online exercises. Just type in esl and the grammar tenses – esl present simple vs present continuous.

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