Grammar » B1 Grammar lessons and exercises » Present simple or present continuous
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  • Present simple or present continuous

    Exercise 1

    Choose the present simple or present continuous to complete the sentences below.

    1 In Johannesburg most people at least five languages.

    2 Languages very fast. Half of world's languages will disappear by 2100.

    3 You can't see Tim now; he a bath.

    4 Please keep quiet, I to the radio. You know I to the news in the mornings.

    5 What time ?

    6 I a scarf, but today I one because it's unusually cold.

    7 I finished watching the series you recommended. Now I another one.

    8 What tonight? Would you like to come and watch the game?

    9 Nobody they will win the match.

    10 You look worried. What ?


  • Present simple vs present continuous – Form

    Present simple or present continuous

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    Present simple – short forms

    We normally use short forms in spoken English.

    • do not = don’t
    • does not = doesn’t

    Present continuous – short forms

    We normally use short forms in spoken English.

    • am not = ‘m not
    • is not = isn’t/’s not
    • are not = aren’t/’re not

    Present simple vs present continuous – Use


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    Present simple use

    Habits or situations that happen regularly

    We use the present simple to talk about actions that we do (o we don’t do) regularly:

    • I wash my hair every day.
    • I never go to the library.
    • I sometimes go to the library.

    Permanent situations or things that are usually or often true

    • I don’t drink coffee.
    • Shes very tall.
    • I have two brothers.
    • Water boils at 100 degrees.
    • I like soup.

    Adverbs of frequency

    We often use the present simple with adverbs of frequency (always, sometimes, etc.) and expressions of frequency (once every three months, twice a week, every other day, etc.).

    Adverbs of frequency go in mid position (before the main verb or after be).

    • She doesn’t often eat hamburgers.
    • He usually gets up very early.
    • I am never late.

    Expressions of frequency go at the end of the sentence

    • We go to the cinema once a month.
    • I buy clothes twice a year.

    Future events that are timetabled

    We use the present simple to talk about future events that are scheduled or timetabled.

    • The train leaves at 4.
    • Shops close at 6.
    • My yoga class is tomorrow at 10.

    Present continuous use

    Actions in progress

    We use the present continuous to talk about things that are happening now or ‘around now’ (a time around this moment, such as these days, weeks or months)

    • I can’t talk now. I’m brushing my teeth.
    • I finished the Lord of the Rings and now Im reading a new book.

    Temporary actions

    The present continuous is used to talk about temporary actions:

    • I’m going to work by bus this week because my car is at the garage. 
    • I’m living with my cousins until I find a flat.

    With expressions meaning ‘now’ or ‘around now’.

    The present continuous often appears next to expressions such as now, these days, this week/month, or at the moment.

    • He’s studying a lot this week. 
    • I’m not feeling very well these days. 

    Situations that are changing or developing

    • The climate is changing very quickly.
    • More and more people are trying to eat more healthily nowadays.
    • Your English is improving.

    Future arrangements

    We use the present continuous to talk or ask about future actions that are already planned or decided.

    • Im meeting John this evening. Do you want to come?
    • We are leaving tomorrow at 7. 

    Stative verbs

    Non-action verbs (or stative verbs) cannot be used in present continuous. They must be used in present simple. The most frequent are the verbs of the senses (hear, see, smell, look, seem, sound), verbs of opinion (believe, consider, like, love, hate, prefer, think, etc.) verbs of possession (have, own, belong, etc.). Other common non-action verbs are: agree, be, depend, need, mean, remember, realise, recognise, seem, want, etc.

    • Please, give me my money; I need it now.
    • Look at her; she seems sad.

    Some verbs have an action and a non-action meaning; for example, have or think:

    • I have a car (=possession) / I’m having a siesta (=action)
    • I think he is great (=opinion) / What are you thinking? (=action)

    The verb see also has a dynamic and a stative meaning.

    • I‘m seeing the doctor tomorrow at 9. (see= ‘have an appointment’)
    • What do you see in this picture? (see= ‘see with your eyes’)
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