English Grammar Course Unit 3: Present continuous (I am doing) or Simple present (I do)?

Why should you study this unit?

In the previous unit we learned about the use of simple present. It is used to talk about things in general and we understand that it is used when we talk about things that happen repeatedly.  This unit deals with the present continuous. You will  also learn the difference between the present continuous and the simple present. While speaking about temporary situations like someone boarding the bus or a student crossing the road, the present continuous is used. On the other hand, when we speak of permanent situations such as the sun rise, the climate etc, we use the simple present.

Before you study this unit, study Unit 1 and Unit 2.
A. Study this explanation and compare the examples:

Present continuous (I am doing)

1. Use the present continuous to talk about something that is happening at or close to the time of speaking:

<–(Past)– (Now)I am doing–(Future)–>

The water is boiling. Could you turn it off, please?
Listen to those people. What language are they speaking?
“Where’s Tom?” “He’s playing tennis.”
(you find a stranger in your room) What are you doing here?
Anita is in India for three months. She’s learning English.

2. Use the present continuous for a temporary situation:
I’m living with some friends until I can find an apartment.
Mary usually has a summer job, but she isn’t working this summer.

Simple present (I do)

1. Use the simple present to talk about things in general or things that happen repeatedly:

<—(Past)—-(Now)I do—-(Future)—>

Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.
Excuse me, do you speak English?
Tom plays tennis every Saturday.
What do you usually do on the weekend?
What do you do? (= What’s your job?)
Most people learn to swim when they are children.

2. Use the simple present for a permanent situation:
My parents live in London. They have been there for 20 years.
Jack doesn’t work during the summer. He always takes a long vacation.

B. Some verbs are used only in simple tenses. For example, you cannot say “I am knowing.”You can only say I know. Here is a list of verbs that are not normally used in continuous tenses (but there are exceptions):
want    like    belong  

know    suppose    remember
need    love    see   

realize    mean    forget
prefer    hate    hear   

believe    understand    seem
have (meaning “possess”; see also Unit 23) think (meaning “believe” / “have an opinion”)
Do you like Rome? (not are you liking)
He doesn’t understand the problem. (not he isn’t understanding)
These shoes belong to me. (not are belonging)
What do you think Tom will do? ( =What do you believe he will do?)
– Do you have a car? (not are you having)

What are you thinking about? ( =What is going on in your mind?)

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