Simple Present vs. Present Continuous – lesson 14

Speaking confidently with friends and family

This is an advanced lesson and can be used for reference while learning about the Present Simple and Present Continuous verbs.




What is the Present Simple Verb:

This verb can be used for things that are generally true and unlimited in time.  Without a beginning or an ending.  It is used to talk about permanent situations or about things that happen regularly, repeatedly or all of the time (not just around now).   This verb simply uses the base form of the verb, for example: speak / eat / walk / think / work.  Add s, es or ies for the third person singular forms, for example:  speak: speaks / work: works / reach: reaches / search: searches / hurry: hurries / reply: replies / cries  (for ies – remove the y and add ies, for example: cry: cries,  hurry: hurries.   Exception: enjoy: enjoys

Examples of permanent situations or things that happen repeatedly or all of the time;

It always rains here in November

Alice works for an insurance company

Examples: We don’t usually use the simple present to talk about temporary situations or actions that are only going on around the present:

He’s playing tennis,  (he’s playing tennis and this is not a permanent situation.  But it is a temporary situation around the present time so the Present Progressive verb is used).  NOT: he plays tennis

The kettle’s boiling  (NOT: the kettle boils)

It’s snowing!  (NOT: it snows)

John isn’t playing very well (is + not)

they aren’t going to the event (are + not)

they told me they weren’t at the event (were + not)


What is the Present Continuous Verb:

For this verb look for the main verb and then add: ing.  For example: talk: talking / go: going / speak:speaking / walk: walking / meet: meeting.  This verb can be used whenever you are thinking about temporary, continuing, not completed actions and events, which are just going on now or around now.   We do not normally use the present continuous to talk about permanent situations, or about things that happen regularly, repeatedly or all of the time.

Also, this verb uses a helping hand with the verb to be:

Is / am / are / was / were, these are all forms of: Be and are all auxiliary verbs.

Be + subject + ing    Examples:

what are you doing?  I’m reading (I am reading)  /  I’m travelling (I am travelling)

Look, the cat‘s eating your breakfast (temporary).  Note: cat’s has a contracted is.  The cat is eating.  An apostrophy () is added before the s to show possession.

what do bears eat?  Everything (Present Simple)  – what are bears eating? (Present Continuous)

are you getting on all right?  what are you doingwere you playing in the team at the football game?

The Present Continuous can refer to repeated actions and events if these are just happening around the present.  For example:

why is he hitting the punch bag (temporary)

I’m travelling a lot these days (temporary)

waters’s running down the kitchen wall (temporary)

the Rine runs into the North Sea (Permanent)

I’m waiting for the shops to open (temporary)

why are you jumping up and down (temporary

Hurry up!  We’re all waiting for you (NOT: we all wait)

what are you doing?  I’m writing letters (NOT: I write letters)

I am waiting / Are you listening? / she isn’t working today

My sister’s living at home for the moment

your parents live in North London, don’t they? (Present Simple)

Chetford Castle stands on a hill outside the town (Present Simple)



Lesson 14


Theme for the lesson:Global Goal 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production



Vocabulary for the lesson:

Degradation……..when something is spoilt and starts to loose it’s original condition (noun)

Consumption……the amount used or eaten (noun)

Production……….when goods and services are created and sold (noun)

Sustain…………… cause or allow something to continue for a period of time (verb)

Responsible……..this is when a person or organisation works towards the best or correct outcome (adjective)



Resources on this blog:

Present Simple verb – lesson 2

Additional Information – Present Simple Verb

Present Continuous verb – lesson 1

UN Sustainable Development Website: 17 Goals to Transform our World

Global Goal 12: Why it Matters


In-a-cafe1In this picture two friends are enjoying a cup of coffee and talking about the global economy (see story below):


Read as much as possible of the story below:


Simple Present and Present Continuous story

In this story I have used both the Simple Present and the Present Continuous: 

In last week’s story (lesson 13) I spoke about John.  John is a friend who I haven’t seen for a long time so we decided to meet and have a cup of tea in a local cafe.  As I described before John always tells me (simple present) about the research that he does (simple present) for his job and mostly it’s about the global economy.   He told me that his firm are working  (present continuous) on a project about responsible consumption and production (this is also Global Goal 12).

John told me that on the United Nations Global Goals Website it describes how it’s important for nations to be in a position where they have or are aiming at (present continuous) a good state of sustainable consumption and production.   When this is put into practice it follows that there will also be a good state of welfare, better resources and better health.  However, this is only achieved when negative aspects of an economy are confronted.  Wherever resources are over used or never improved upon within countries the results can effect people’s health and well being to the extent that the economy will also be effected.

Here is a quote: ‘If we don’t act to change our consumption and production patterns, we will cause irreversible damage to our environment’ (why it matters).  This statement takes on more importance when some of the statistics are looked at.  For example, if the world’s population continues to increase at its current rate it won’t be able to be sustained.   By 2050, if the global population reaches 9.6 billion this will mean that the planet will need three times more than its current resources to sustain current lifestyles.  This is a frightening fact.

We enjoyed our cup of tea in the Cafe.  Before John departed he said to me that he is thinking (present continuous) about moving to Scotland because his firm have an office in that part of the country.  I said to him: ‘why do you want to move? (simple present).   He replied: ‘I’m not leaving yet’ (present continuous).   I said to him that I hope to see him soon (simple present) regardless of his plans to move to Scotland.

Raymond Van Neste – April 2020

References: The above story summarises facts from two articles on the United Nations Global Goals development website for Global Goal 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production  and Responsible Consumption and Production – Why it Matters



Comparing the Simple Present and Present Continuous verbs in the story about my friend

In the story above John always tells me about the research.  This is a permanent situation happening over an extended period of time.  Also, always is an adverb of frequency used with the Present Simple verb.  Therefore it is the Present Simple because it has no beginning or end.

The research that he does for his job.   This action is the Present Simple because it has no beginning or end.  It is permanent.

His firm are working on a project.  Again, here is a temporary situation where John’s firm are working on a project.  It is not completed and it refers to around the present time therefore it is the Present Continuous verb.

Are aiming at.  John is describing a situation where he believes it’s necessary for nations to be aiming at or working towards a goal.   This is not completed and is temporary.  Therefore it is the Present Continuous.

Are you thinking of moving?  Think is a state verb to be used in the simple form but it can also be used in both the simple and continuous forms.  The simple form: what do you think?  Do you think it is a good idea?   Here, thinking is used in the Present continuous form. 

Why do you want to move?  This is the Simple Present which uses the subject you and the Present simple verb: move.

‘I’m not leaving yet’.  Here John used the Present continuous to express a temporary situation around the present time.  It is not a completed action.


Raymond Van Neste – April 2020

Copyright. Comparing the Simple Present and Present Continuous verbs in the Story about my Friend © Raymond Van Neste. 11 April 2020



Final Task:

If you are an advanced learner look in your dictionary for both simple action verbs and also progressive verbs.  With your friends see if you can speak or write some simple sentences while thinking about things happening around now.    For example, you could imagine that you are speaking with a friend about their job or their family or about their favourite food or their family pet.  During the conversation you could introduce words like: eat / eating / sleep / sleeping / talk / talking.  Keep the sentences short.  For example: I talk to my pets when I feel depressed.  I go for long walks in the summer / My hobby is running.   

If you are a beginner look at both Simple verbs as well as verbs ending in ing and how they are used in a sentence.

End of Lesson



Next lesson:

The next lesson (lesson 15) will be on Saturday 18th April 2020.  The lesson will be about nouns.  The theme will be about Global Goal 16 –  Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


Useful links: 

Global Goal 16 – Responsible Consumption and Production

Global Goal 16 – Why they Matter

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Information about the United Nations

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?