Simple Present vs Present Continuous

simple present vs present continuous

In English, there are two forms of the present compared to French which only uses one form of the present.

Below is one example:

Let’s take a look at the two sentences below to try and better understand the difference between both.

1) It snows often during winter. (Simple Present)

2) It is snowing outside! (Present Continuous)

The 1st sentence is a fact whereas the 2nd sentence describes an action which is taking place at the moment of speaking.

In the 2nd sentence, the person speaking is describing what he or she is seeing at the exact moment of speaking.

Test your knowledge of the simple present vs the present continuous!

State whether the following sentences are written in the simple present or in the present continuous tense.

1) He is driving his car.
2) I am talking to Syndia on the phone.
3) I am walking to work.
4) He walks to work everyday.
5) He smokes cigars.
6) He drinks so much coffee.
7) He likes listening to music.
8) She is watching tv.
9) The sun sets every day.
10) Sasha is a good father to his 2 children.

Sentences 4,5,6,7,9 and 10 are in the simple present tense.

Sentences 1,2,3, and 8 are in the present continuous tense.

Find the answers to the following questions:

1) How do we form the simple present tense?

2) How do we form the present continuous tense?

3) What keywords do we use with the simple present?

4) What keywords do we use with the present continuous?

Simple Present Explained

Simple present

In English, we use the simple present to talk about facts, habits, routines and *feelings.

Facts are statements which are true all the time.

Habits are things that we do because we really enjoy something or we can’t help ourselves, it’s programmed inside of us.

Examples of habits:

smoking, going to bed late, overeating when feeling stressed, going to the movies once a week.

Routines are things that we do in order to get something done or to simplify and improve our lives.

Example of  a routine:

Bringing a child to daycare every morning before going to work.

note: It is possible for some things to be both a habit and routine depending on the context.

More examples:

Fact: Bears hibernate.

Habit: I always bite my nails when I’m nervous.

Routine: My husband brings our daughter to daycare every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

Note: We don’t use the simple present to talk about things that are happening right now. (right now = present continuous / e.g. You are reading this right now.)

Feelings* We often use the simple present to express our feelings on a more general level, especially to state a fact.


I am mad at him,            compared to:             I’m feeling so angry with him (present continuous:  in this case, the specific moment when the sentence is spoken)

I am so happy to be here.


Some keywords used with the simple present are:   often / never /rarely / sometimes / every / always / each