Grammar Intermediate | Present Continuous and Present Simple

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Learn the difference between the present continuous and the present simple in the new episode from Grammar Intermediate series by English Plus Podcast.

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I am using an automatic transcript service as it is not possible for me to do it on my own and I cannot afford human transcription at the moment. The service claims to have about 95% accuracy, which means there will still be some mistakes, so my apologies for having a less than perfect transcript, but I hope I can afford human transcription soon and I will solve this problem. However, the service is pretty good, and the transcript is almost perfect.

Transcript

Welcome to a new episode from English plus podcast. This episode is about grammar and this is grammar intermediate. We will talk today about present continuous and present simple differences between these two common tenses and how we can use them to our benefit to express ourselves in different situations.

[00:00:25] But before we do that, let me remind you that you can find the transcript of this episode in a link. I will leave in the description. You will also find a link that will take you to Patreon, where you can become a patron of English plus podcast and support us to continue. And by doing that, you will get premium PDF worksheets.

[00:00:43] With every single episode we create. You will also find a link to our mailing list, subscribe to our mailing list and get scheduled updates every two weeks with selected premium PDF worksheets that we will share with our mailing list subscribers. Now, with that being said, let’s not waste any more time and start right away with our present continuous and presence symbol.

[00:01:03] Uh, first let’s start with the present continuous. Now, when we use present continuous, I am doing, when I say I am doing, what does that mean? We use the continuous four things happening at the moment of speaking at the time of speaking or around the time of speaking. The most important thing, we need to know that the action is not complete because it’s not always the case.

[00:01:24] When we talk about something in the present, continuous and it’s happening right now, we can see it. Sometimes we can’t see it, but it is happening right now because the action is not complete. Now, of course, we will talk about examples and you will understand exactly what that means, but that is an idea you have to keep in mind.

[00:01:42] Well, while this is the main idea of the present continuous. What is the main idea behind the present? Simple. What is the main idea? We try to express when we use the present simple. When we say I do not, I am doing, I do. Now. We use the present simple to talk about things in general or things that happened repeatedly.

[00:02:02] We’re not talking about something that is happening right now. That is not the focus. Maybe it is happening right now, but this is not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about how repeatedly it happens or that it happens in general. We’ll talk about things in general. Now, of course, to understand that better, we will compare sentences with the same verb, but one is used with present continuous and one is used with present simple, and we will see how they compare to each other to understand the difference between present continuous and present.

[00:02:32] Simple, better. Now let’s start with our first example. The water is boiling. Be careful and water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. Now of course, the water is boiling is present. Continuous water boils is present simple, but what is the difference in the meaning that made us use the present continuous in the first one and the present simple in the second one, because the first one, the water is boiling.

[00:02:54] It’s boiling right now. Don’t touch it. Be careful. You’ll burn yourself. I’m talking about something that’s happening right now, and it is dangerous. So it is a situation that is happening right now. Don’t go near the water. Don’t touch. The water is boiling is going to burn. You be careful. But when I say water boils at 100 degrees Celsius, maybe there’s no water boiling at all at the moment.

[00:03:18] Maybe we’re talking about that just as a scientific fact and nothing is boiling at the moment. We’re not actually boiling water. We haven’t boiled water for a long time. Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. That is a general fact about water, water boils at this specific degree Celsius. So that is the difference.

[00:03:36] Now, of course, that’s not all, let’s talk about more examples and understand it even better. Let’s take a look at the second example, listen to those people. What language are they speaking? And we say, excuse me, do you speak English? Now here, the first one we use, obviously the present continuous, the second one, we use the presence.

[00:03:56] What’s the difference? Well, in the first one, you see some people and they are talking to each other and you can hear them say, listen to those people. Maybe you’re talking to a person who is with you and you say, listen to those people, but I can hear them, but I can’t tell what language it is that they are using.

[00:04:15] So what language are they speaking? Like right now I can hear them. I’m trying to listen and understand what language it is, but I can’t. So what language are they speaking right now? Not in general. I’m not asking in general, like in the second example, excuse me. Do you speak English? Like this is a fact.

[00:04:35] Do you speak English or you don’t. Not now because if you were speaking English, I will know at least English, unless you’re speaking some kind of language, I don’t know. But the idea is I speak English. It’s a general question. Do you speak English? Do you know this language or not? That is present simple, not like the first example.

[00:04:54] Let’s take a look at another example. Let’s get out it. Isn’t raining now and compare this to it. Doesn’t rain very much in summer. The first one I’m telling you look outside it’s winter maybe, or maybe it was raining just a while ago. And I look outside and I see that it is not draining at the moment right now.

[00:05:12] And maybe I will, I was waiting for that because I wanted to get out, but it was so I didn’t get out. So I tell you let’s go out. It’s not raining now. It isn’t raining. Let’s go out. We can go out. There’s no rain. It is not raining. I’m talking about right now at the moment, but in the second example, It doesn’t rain very much in summer.

[00:05:32] That is a fact that is something that’s kind of common sense. People know that usually it doesn’t rain very much in summer. So there you go. We’re talking about things in general or things that happen repeatedly. One more example at one person says I’m busy and the second person asks him, what are you doing?

[00:05:52] And look at the other example, what do you usually do at weekends? Well, obviously there’s a big difference and the first one I’m busy. I say I’m busy and the other person asked me, why, why are you busy? What are you doing? Like right now, you say you are busy. So right now you’re busy. You don’t want to see me.

[00:06:11] You don’t want to go to the cinema with me or whatever. What are you doing right now at the moment of speaking? And I know that your action is not complete because you’re still doing it. What are you doing? But in the second one, what do you usually do at weekends? Well, I’m not talking about a specific weekend.

[00:06:28] I’m not talking about this weekend. I’m not asking you. What are you going to do this weekend? No, I’m just asking you in general. What do you usually do? That’s prison simple. What do you usually do at weekends? You can tell me. Well, usually I stay at home and watch TV. Usually I go out with my friends.

[00:06:46] Usually I do this. Usually I do that. It doesn’t matter, but that is present simple because you’re talking about things you do in general. Now let’s see another example. I’m getting hungry. Let’s go and eat. And the second one, I always get hungry in the afternoon. So here we have a difference. I’m getting hungry right now.

[00:07:06] I’m starting to feel this. This is something that’s happening right now. And I feel bad. I want to eat right now. That’s why I said, let’s go and eat. But in the second one, I’m not talking about being hungry right now. Maybe I’m hungry. Maybe I’m not, but I’m talking about a general fact about myself that I always get hungry in the afternoon.

[00:07:25] I know myself. I always get hungry. That is something that happens to me in general. So that is different. And that’s why we use the present simple. Another example, Kate wants to work in Italy. So she’s learning Italian. Well, Kate wants to work in Italy. So she’s learning Italian. Well, that is not a fact like the second example.

[00:07:44] That is not something in general. Like the second example, the second example we say, most people learn to swim when they are children. That is a fact. That is a general fact. It’s not always true, but it is a fact. It is generally true. Most people learn. That’s why we use present simple here, but with the first one she’s learning Italian.

[00:08:04] That’s not a general thing about Kate. It’s not like she learns Italian all the time. No, that doesn’t work, but because she wants to go work in Italy, she’s learning Italian. She’s doing it right now as a temporary thing. And the action is not complete. She’s still learning. She’s doing this around now because you have to notice, it’s not always at the moment of speaking.

[00:08:25] Maybe I’m saying this about Kate and Kate is sleeping now she’s not learning Italian. I mean, even if you’re learning Italian or like now you’re learning English. That doesn’t mean that you do it all day long. Of course not. You’re learning English. That is a continuous thing. You’re still doing it. It’s not complete, but it doesn’t have to be at the moment so that you can use the present continuous.

[00:08:46] No, of course you can say I’m learning English and you’re doing something else. You’re eating, you’re drinking. You’re doing whatever you want to do, because we can also use the present continuous to talk about actions that are happening around the moment of speaking or around the time of speaking.

[00:09:02] Remember that? And now for one more example, the population of the world is increasing very fast. So I’m talking about something that is changing and it’s still changing. It’s not complete is increasing, but look at the other example every day, the population of the world increases by about 200,000 people that is different.

[00:09:22] I’m talking about something that happens repeatedly every day. Increases presence simple. Now, with that being said, let’s talk about something else. Let’s talk about the difference between present continuous and present simple in terms of being temporary and permanent. Now we use the present continuous for temporary situations.

[00:09:41] That means things that continue for a short time things that don’t last forever, but we use the simple present for permanent situations, things that continue for a long time. Let’s take a look at these examples. If I say I’m living with some friends until I find a place of my own, well, I’m living with some friends, that’s a temporary situation.

[00:10:02] I want to find a place of my own, and I want to live on my own. That is the permanent thing that I want to happen for me, but because I can’t afford it right now, or I can’t find the right place, I’m living with some friends on a temporary basis temporarily, that thing is not going to continue forever.

[00:10:22] That thing is going to happen just for a short time until I find a place of my own. But if you compare this to my parents live in London. They have lived there all their lives while we’re talking about a permanent situation. Obviously they’ve lived there all their lives. That is permanent. That is present simple.

[00:10:39] And here you might think to yourselves. So how would I know? Well, you don’t have to know, but you have to understand that when a person uses present continuous, he, or she means temporary situation, or when they use present simple, they mean permanent situations. And that tells you something about it as well.

[00:10:58] If you want to express the idea of temporary is the present. Continuous. If you want to express the idea of something that is permanent, use the present simple. And by just choosing between those two tenses, you’re telling the person who’s listening to you, what do you mean. Without having to say all the words.

[00:11:17] If I say I’m living with my friends and I just stop people will usually understand that it is a temporary situation because I said I’m living. But if I say I live here, I live here. That’s permanent. That means I’m not going to move. I may move next week, but I don’t think I will. So permanent and temporary, very important to understand, because that is one of the key differences between the present continuous and the present.

[00:11:40] Simple. Now, to understand that a little bit better, let’s take a look at one more example. You’re working hard today. Yes. I have a lot to do. So the working hard today, that’s temporary because I’m looking at you and you’re working maybe harder than usual. Doesn’t mean that you’re usually lazy. No, but I look at you and you’re working very hard today.

[00:11:59] That’s temporary. That’s just for today. It’s not like that all the time, but look at the other sentence, Joe. Isn’t lazy. He works hard. Most of the time though, here I’m stressing the fact that Joe works hard most of the time, because here, what I’m trying to say is that is a permanent thing about Joe Joe.

[00:12:18] Isn’t lazy. Joe is industrious. Joe is very hardworking, et cetera. He works hard most of the time. That is a kind of a quality of Joe. So here we use the present simple, obviously. So I hope you understand the difference now between the present simple and the present continuous. I know that I used a lot of examples, but you really need to see it from different perspectives in different sentences in contexts, in different contexts.

[00:12:43] That is the only way you’re going to understand how it is. But of course, the best way to understand it is to use it, to think about. Those examples to think about those meanings and to start questioning yourself after the fact, whether I use this correctly or not, don’t bother checking your grammar while you’re speaking, because that will just slow you down.

[00:13:02] But it’s always a good idea to think about it. After the fact, after you say what you want to say, you can think about what you said and you can criticize it, whether it’s correct or not, et cetera. That is a very good way to learn English. But now let’s talk about one more idea before we finish this episode.

[00:13:20] And that is the difference between I always do. And I’m always doing now because always talks about something that happens all the time. It is usually a permanent thing. So we think that we usually use present simple with it and that’s it. We don’t usually use it with present continuous, and that is correct.

[00:13:40] We don’t usually use always with present continuous because the meaning of always itself is permanent is things in general, things that happened repeatedly, but sometimes we can use the present continuous with it for a very specific meaning. Now, when you say I always do something, that means I do it every time.

[00:14:01] For example, we say, I always go to work by car. We can say here, I’m always going. No, I’m talking about something that I do repeatedly. Something that I do every time. So that is present simple, definitely present simple. But we can use present continuous with always when we say I’m always doing something that has a very special meaning.

[00:14:22] That means I do it too often, or more often than normal. For example, we say I’ve lost my keys again. I’m always losing them. Well, when you say I’m always losing them, you’ll kind of criticizing yourself for doing that too much. I’m always losing them. That means I lose them too often or more often than normal.

[00:14:44] Now let’s take a look at a couple of more examples using the present continuous with always so that we can understand it better. Paul is never satisfied. He’s always complaining. He’s always complaining. I’m not just saying he always complaints and I’m kind of neutral about it. No, I’m saying that it is too much.

[00:15:02] That’s why I use always with present continuous. So here we’re saying that he complains too much. Of course you can say he complains too much, but here’s a better way. You can express that by saying he’s always complaining. He is never satisfied. And another example, you’re always looking at your phone.

[00:15:21] Don’t you have anything else to do? No. Just like I’ve been sitting here with you for half an hour and you’re always looking at your phone. Now, this person is trying to say whenever I see you, you’re always looking at your phone. What’s wrong with you, don’t you have anything better to do so here, the person is kind of complaining.

[00:15:38] When I say that to someone I’m kind of complaining, I’m kind of criticizing the person because I’m saying you’re looking at, at your phone too much more than normal. You’re not normal, or this is what you’re doing is not normal. So here, I want you to think about that and I want you to understand that.

[00:15:55] Grammar is not. Mechanics is not one plus one equals two. It is a tool. It is a tool for the meaning that you have to say, the meaning that you have in your mind, no matter what your native language, which might be ideas, speak no languages. So you have an idea in your mind and you want to express it in English.

[00:16:16] The most important thing is the idea itself. You know what you want to say, but sometimes you don’t have the right tools for the job. And by learning grammar, you learn the tools for the job and you learn to use the correct tools for every job you have for every meaning you have in mind, you know, the rule that you can use to express this meaning that’s, what’s beautiful about grammar.

[00:16:39] So that was everything for today. I hope you learned something from this episode. And now, before I leave you, let me remind you that you can find the transcript of this episode in a link. I will leave in the description and you will also find a link to Patreon where you can become a patron of the show and support us on Patreon.

[00:16:56] Because your support is the only way that will help us go on. And by doing that, by becoming a patron of the show, you will get a premium PDF worksheet with every single episode we create. And there’s also another link that will take you to our mailing list. You can subscribe to our mailing list and get an update every two weeks on our schedule, you will get selected premium PDF worksheets that we send to our mailing list subscribers.

[00:17:20] Now, that being said, I want to thank you very much for listening to another episode. From English plus podcast. This is your host, Danny. I will see you next time.

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