notes: present tenses
The present simple is used for:
I am English
(and I always will be English).
I work in Valencia (I do now and will do for
the forseeable future).
I teach English.
habits and routines:
I drive to
work every day (it’s part of my daily routine).
I don’t wear white shoes (it’s my
habit not to).
I like going to the cinema at weekends.
permanent truths and facts:
The sun rises in
the east and sets in the west.
Water boils at 100ºC (212ºF in case
you wanted to know).
New technology makes it easier to learn English.
It isn't always easy to see where
one category ends and the next begins, but getting the verb into the
right category isn't the objective here. Just remember that the present
simple is used more than anything for facts and/or habits and/or things
that are permanent. The category doesn't matter.
The present continuous is used for:
actions happening at the moment of
I'm sitting in
front of the computer.
The phone’s ringing.
I'm trying to think of another example to put
actions happening around the moment
learning French (not at this moment, but I’ve got
a class tomorrow).
I’m doing a lot of revision for my exams
(but not right now).
I'm seeing a lot of my brother at the moment
(but he's not here now).
sitting on the café terrace.
The traffic is making a lot of noise.
She's wearing a red dress.
staying with my grandparents while my parents are away.
My brother is using the metro because his car
is being repaired.
I'm sleeping in the spare room because I'm decorating
Remember that we use the continuous
form in English more than you use it in Spanish. If something sounds
strange to you, it doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong!
of simple and continuous
You should use the present simple
to talk about things you consider to be facts:
Do you get
on with your parents? (generally)
I think my brother is a pain in the neck (always,
not just now).
Use the present continuous if you
consider the action or event to be temporary:
Are you getting
on with your parents now? (you had an argument last week)
My brother’s being really nice at the
moment (and this is not normal).
Both forms can sometimes be used
to talk about the same thing, but there will be a difference in meaning:
My brother lives in
France (because his wife is French and they don't like England).
My brother’s living in France (because
his company has sent him there for six months).
There are some verbs that you don't
usually use in the continuous form, just as in Spanish. Generally speaking
they're verbs that describe states and not actions, such as these:
verbs describing thought processes
think, believe, remember, know, forget,
verbs describing emotions:
want, like, love, hate, adore, detest…
verbs describing the senses:
see, hear, taste, feel, smell…
This doesn't mean that it's impossible
to use these verbs in the continuous. It just means that it's unusual
and would probably be very specific in a particular situation.
comparisons with Spanish
The present simple is more common
in Spanish than it is in English. The best way to avoid making mistakes
is to remember what we use each tense for in English. If you think
of what you want to say in Spanish and then translate literally you'll
find it more difficult to get the right tense. Here are some examples:
Imagine walking into a pub and
seeing a friend you thought was on holiday in Portugal. You would
probably ask ¿Qué haces aquí?,
but in English we would say What are you doing
here? because the question refers to this moment. If you ask What
do you do here?, you're asking about the work that person
When you buy a newspaper, or if
the phone is ringing, you might say Lo cojo
yo. In English we would say I'll get
it because we're offering to do something and therefore have
to use 'will'.
If you're talking to a friend about
what they're going to do for their holiday next year, you could ask ¿Con
quién vas?, but in English it has to be Who
are you going with? because we're talking about a future arrangement
to exercises and pdf files
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tenses gapfill exercise - pdf file for download or printing
tenses grammar notes from this page - pdf
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