Posted by: Idioma Extra | January 22, 2014

Grammar Guru

Simple Present vs. Present Progressive

Sometimes, it is confusing which verb tense to use. Today, we will look at the simple present (I swim) and present progressive (I am swimming).

First, let’s look at the form.

Simple Present Present Progressive
(3rd person singular: base + ‘s’)

I speak
you speak
he / she / it speaks
we speak
they speak

Negative: I/you/we/they do not speak

He/she/it does not speak

form of ‘be’ + present participle (verb+ing)

I am speaking

you are speaking
he / she / it is speaking
we are speaking
they are speaking

Negative: I am not speaking

You/they are not speaking

He/she/it is not speaking

**Remember that when asking questions, simple present questions need the auxiliary do or does. (Do you swim? When do you swim?)

The verb to be acts as the auxiliary in the present progressive. (Are you swimming? Why are you swimming?)


Next, let’s talk about when we use each tense.

Simple Present Present Progressive
in general (regularly, often, never)

Colin plays football every Tuesday.

present actions happening one after another

First Colin plays football, then he watches TV.

right now

Look! Colin is playing football now.

also for several actions happening at the same time

Colin is playing football and Anne is watching.

Signal words
  • always
  • every …
  • often
  • normally
  • usually
  • sometimes
  • seldom
  • never
  • first
  • then
  • at the moment
  • at this moment
  • today
  • now
  • right now
  • Listen!
  • Look!

Last, there are certain verbs that we don’t use in the progressive tense. They are called stative or nonaction verbs.

  • state: be, cost, fit, mean, suitExample: We are on holiday.
  • possession: belong, haveExample: Sam has a cat.
  • senses: feel, hear, see, smell, taste, touchExample: He feels the cold.
  • feelings: hate, hope, like, love, prefer, regret, want, wishExample: Jane loves pizza.
  • brain work: believe, know, think, understandExample: I believe you.
  • Introductory clauses for direct speech: answer, ask, reply, sayExample: “I am watching TV,“ he says.


Now, take the quiz to see how you did!

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