Lesson 2.3 Present Simple and Present Continuous

2.3.1  We looked at present simple tense and present continuous tense in the previous unit, when we discussed the 5 most important tenses in English. This information is summarised below:


In short, we use present simple to talk about actions that happen regularly – in general or regular time, e.g.

  • He eats breakfast at 7 o’clock every morning.

…or things that are generally true, e.g. ‘The car park is expensive.’ We do not use present simple to talk about what we are doing at the moment. Instead we use present continuous:

  • I’m walking to the post office. [at the moment]

2.3.2  This table can help us to understand the differences between these two common tenses:


2.3.3  On these two handouts you can see how the most common verbs in English – BE, DO, HAVE, and GO – look in present simple and present continuous tenses: present-simple, present-continuous. Try to learn these important verb tables.


Ex. 2.3.1 Writing  Complete the gaps with the correct form of each verb:

LAND       BE X3       TAKE       MAKE       WAIT       DRIVE       OPEN       GET       RIDE

  1. I ____________ the train to work every day.
  2. Public transport in my city ____________ very expensive.
  3. ‘Where’s Gill?’ ‘She ____________ her car to the garage.’
  4. What time does the service station ____________?
  5. Look – the aeroplane ____________.
  6. He usually ____________ his motorbike to college.
  7. My car’s engine ____________ a lot of noise.
  8. Hurry up! The taxi ____________.
  9. We ____________ down the motorway at 70 mile per hour.
  10. Oh dear. The bus ____________ late.

Ex. 2.3.2 Reading  Rearrange the words in each sentence to make a sentence:

  1. passed I my test last driving week.
  2. did drive you When learn to?
  3. doesn’t know to He the airport way the.
  4. is to It go by quicker ferry.
  5. was blocked Why road the?
  6. never helicopter flown have I by.
  7. ticket pence The cost pounds seventy two.
  8. where I are know my keys car don’t.
  9. a is van the between difference lorry What a and?
  10. very The clear signs road aren’t.

Ex. 2.3.3 Writing  Write a sentence with present simple and present continuous for each set of keywords:

Example:          Lucy  –  read –  book

P.S.                  Lucy reads books every day.

P.C.                  Lucy is reading a book at the moment.

  1. He  –  eat  –  breakfast

P.S.                  ____________________________________________________________________

P.C.                  ____________________________________________________________________

  1. My dad  –  drive  –  work

P.S.                  ____________________________________________________________________

P.C.                  ____________________________________________________________________

  1. We  –  draw  –  cartoons

P.S.                  ____________________________________________________________________

P.C.                  ____________________________________________________________________

  1. Marie  –  talk  –  friend

P.S.                  ____________________________________________________________________

P.C.                  ____________________________________________________________________

  1. Anne  –  prepare  –  presentation

P.S.                  ____________________________________________________________________

P.C.                  ____________________________________________________________________

  1. Tom  –  make  –  soup

P.S.                  ____________________________________________________________________

P.C.                  ____________________________________________________________________

Ex. 2.3.4 Reading  Choose true or false for each of the statements below:

  1. We need auxiliary verb did in present simple. t / f
  2. Present continuous uses ing form, unless the time is future. t / f
  3. We use present simple for future actions connected with timetables. t / f
  4. The time in present continuous is now. t / f
  5. Regular time is outside of the past-present-future timeline. t / f
  6. We use present simple to descibe completed actions. t / f
  7. Present simple uses infinitive form. t / f
  8. We use present continuous to talk about future arrangements. t / f
  9. Present continuous uses ing form only. t / f
  10. We need to use BE + past participle for present continuous. t / f
  11. Present simple uses past tense form. t / f
  12. In past simple, negative sentences need auxiliary verb do. t / f
  13. Time phrases in present continuous include now and at the moment. t / f
  14. Present simple uses s form. t / f
  15. Past simple describes a similar time to present continuous. t / f
  16. Present simple is used to talk about regular actions. t / f
  17. We use present simple for actions which are happening at the moment. t / f
  18. Present continuous is not used to talk about time up to now. t / f
  19. We need auxiliary verb have in present continuous. t / f
  20. We use ing form to talk about life experience. t / f

Ex. 2.3.5 Reading  Choose either present simple (PS) or present continuous (PC) to answer the questions below:

  1. Which tense uses the time phrase every…?
  2. Which tense describes actions which are happening at the moment?
  3. In which tense do we use adverbs of frequency, like sometimes, always, and often?
  4. In which tense do we use BE as an auxiliary verb in positive, negative, and question forms?
  5. Which tense uses infinitive and s form?
  6. Which tense is often incorrectly used to describe actions which are happening now?
  7. Which tense uses ing form?
  8. Which tense doesn’t need a time phrase, unless it describes a future arrangement?
  9. Which tense uses the auxiliary verbs do and does (unless the main verb is BE)?
  10. Which tense talks about regular time and future timetables?
  11. Which tense uses the time phrases now, at the moment, currently, or presently?
  12. Which tense do we use to talk about facts?

Ex. 2.3.6 Writing  Complete the table from memory, then check your answers: