Simple Present vs Present Continuous

There are differences between the simple present and the present continuous.

The major difference between them is that we use the present simple tense when we want to talk about fixed habits or routines

We use the present continuous to talk about actions which are happening at the moment.

For example:

  • We play soccer every tuesday night. (Simple Present)
  • He does exercises every week. (Simple Present)
  • We are watching a movie at my house (Present Progressive)
  • I am taking a university test (Present Progressive)

We also use the simple present to talk abou permanent situations and we use the present continuous to talk about temporary situations

For example:

  • I live in Norway (Simple Present)
  • I am living in Norway at the moment (Present Continuous)

Examples: Simple Present vs Present Continuous

These are some examples about both tenses so you can see the difference between them

These are some examples of affiirmative sentences in both tenses

Simple PresentPresent Continuous
I speak Dutch with my grandmaI am speaking with my school friends
You drive a car to workYou are driving a car
He plays every dayHe is playing soccer in the soccer field
She watches TV every nightShe is watching a new TV show on Netflix
We live in AustraliaWe are living in Alaska

These are some examples of negative sentences in both tenses

Simple PresentPresent Continuous
I don’t speak EnglishI am not speaking with my friends
You don’t know how to drive a carYou aren’t driving a car right now
He doesn’t play every dayHe isn’t playing soccer at the moment
She doesn’t watch TVShe isn’t watching TV, She isn’t playing soccer
We don’t live here anymoreWe aren’t living in Alaska, we are living in California

These are some questions in both tenses in English

Simple PresentPresent Continuous
Do you cook every night?Are you cooking dinner for us?
Do you always buy clothing online?Are you buying shoes again?
Does she come here every tuesday?Are you coming tomorrow ?
Does he do exercises every tuesday night?Is he doing exercises?
Why do you do that all the time?What are you doing?
What do you usually eat at home?What are you eating?
Where do you go for fun?Where are you going tonight?

Signal Words

The present simple uses frequency adverbs and the present progressive uses other adverbs as signal words

Simple PresentPresent Progressive
AlwaysAt the moment
UsuallyAt this moment
SometimesRight Now

These are some examples using both tenses and some of the signal words from above

  • Simple Present: Sometimes I clean my room
  • Present Progressive: I am cleaning my room right now
  • Simple Present: I usually watch movies on Netflix
  • Present Progressive:  I am watching a Netflix movie at this moment
  • Simple Present: I always drink coffee before going to work
    Present Progressive:  I am drinking coffee now.

Verbs not Used in the Present Continuous

These are some verbs that you don’t use when you are making statements and questions using the present continuous

LikeI like to watch movies with my friend
LoveI love running in the mornings with my colleagues
Want I want to watch a movie tonight with my girl
KnowI know what you are talking about
UnderstandI don’t undertand what you are saying
Remember I remember playing with my friends
Prefer I prefer running instead of jogging
HateI hate playing chess with my little brother
DependShe depends on me for everything she does
BelieveI believe you are watching too much Netflix
ForgetI forgot to bring the grammar book

Simple Present vs Present Continuous

These are some exercises to make you understand the difference between Simple and Present Continuous

Manuel Campos, English Professor

Manuel Campos

I am Jose Manuel, English professor and creator of, a blog whose mission is to share lessons for those who want to learn and improve their English