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This is a tutorial to help you understand how English works. Present Tense v Present Continuous.



One of the first problems for Elementary learners is to understand the difference between actions happening now (present) at the moment of speaking, and actions that happen now (present) but refer to habits or more generally now.

Actions happening at the moment of speaking = Present continuous
Actions that happen which refer to habits or a more general now = Present Simple

Please see the worksheet below for the details of the forms of these tenses:

Statement form

Present Continuous   Present Simple
I am watching this video
(one person)
I watch videos
You are watching this video   You watch videos
He/ She/ It is watching this video   He/ She/ It watches videos
We are watching this video (more than one person) We watch videos
You are watching this video   You watch videos
They are watching this video   They watch videos

Question & Negative forms

Helping verb TO BE   Helping verb TO DO
Are you watching this video?  
Do you watch Videos?
He isn't watching the news.   She doesn't watch the news.

OK. Now Read the examples below:

The question: What are you doing? The answer is - I am watching this video . It is correct because you are doing that one action right now. If you are telling people who can't see the action, for example, you are on the phone telling the other person what is happening or if you are describing a picture and the actions you can see in the picture - all of these should be in the present continuous tense.

If I ask - Do you watch videos? (notice it must be "videos" because it refers to more than one time) I mean to ask about your habits with regard to videos generally. What type of videos do you usually watch? You think of the videos you watch usually, often, regularly or sometimes and answer in general terms perhaps by giving a summary of the most usual ones. For example: I usually watch sports videos. I watch videos on youTube all the time.

Now you need to practise the language using statements, questions and negative forms of both tenses until you can give a suitable reply in a wide variety of situations.

For the present continuous this could be talking about a picture and asking and answering questions about the people in the picture. Then switch to what your habits are with regard to the actions of the people in the picture. You have to use the present simple tense to talk about what you usually do.

Please look at the picture on the worksheet to see how these tenses work.



Lake District holiday group

Questions and answers about actions in the picture.

Question: What is the boy on the left doing? He's looking at his mobile phone and is laughing at a picture.
What is the girl next to him doing? She's lighting her cigarette and smiling.
They are all smiling so what is on the mobile phone that is funny? Maybe it's a funny picture or a joke.
Why are they standing outside an old-style house in the country? Perhaps because they are staying there on holiday.
Why are they wearing overcoats? because it's cold. Maybe it's Autumn or Winter time.

Change to "you" questions using the same verbs but now you talk about your habits and what you do with regard to the use of your mobile phone, holidays in the country and the seasons.

Question: Do you have a mobile phone? Do your friends send you amusing pictures? What type of pictures do they send you? Do you enjoy getting jokes from your friends? Does it annoy you when you get certain types of jokes? Do you like holidays in the country? Do you like autumn? Where do you go on holiday in Winter? etc..

Your answers to these questions are personal to you but should be in the present simple tense.
For example: Yes, I do or No, I don't. Yes, they do. They send me pictures of strange people or animals.
Yes, I love holidays in the country with my friends. No, I don't. I prefer holidays in the town. No, I don't like Winter time. I prefer the Summer.

I hope this tutorial was useful to you. If you would like to learn English online, please register your interest at www.english-lessons-online.com/NewStu.html and I will send an email to make contact and talk about the type of lessons that would suit you.

Best wishes,
John harris