English Grammar Online … the fun way to learn English!

Simple Present – Present Progressive


Simple Present Present Progressive

(3rd person singular: infinitive + 's')

I speak
you speak
he / she / it speaks
we speak
they speak

form of 'be' and verb + ing

I am speaking
you are speaking
he / she / it is speaking
we are speaking
they are speaking

Exceptions when adding 's' :
  • For can, may, might, must, do not add s.

    Example: he can, she may, it must

  • After o, ch, sh or s, add es.

    Example: do - he does, wash - she washes

  • After a consonant, the final consonant y becomes ie. (but: not after a vowel)

    Example: worry - he worries
    but: play - he plays

Exceptions when adding 'ing' :
  • Silent e is dropped. (but: does not apply for -ee)

    Example: come - coming
    but: agree - agreeing

  • After a short, stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled.

    Example: sit - sitting

  • After a vowel, the final consonant l is doubled in British English (but not in American English).

    Example: travel - travelling (British English)
    but: traveling (American English)

  • Final ie becomes y.

    Example: lie - lying

See also explanations on Simple Present and Present Progressive


In general or right now?

Do you want to express that something happens in general or that something is happening right now?

Simple Present Present Progressive

in general (regularly, often, never)

Colin plays football every Tuesday.

present actions happening one after another

First Colin plays football, then he watches TV.

right now

Look! Colin is playing football now.

also for several actions happening at the same time

Colin is playing football and Anne is watching.

Signal words
  • always
  • every ...
  • often
  • normally
  • usually
  • sometimes
  • seldom
  • never
  • first
  • then
  • at the moment
  • at this moment
  • today
  • now
  • right now
  • Listen!
  • Look!

Note: The following verbs are usually only used in Simple Present:
be, have, hear, know, like, love, see, smell, think, want

Timetable / Schedule or arrangement?

Do you want to express that something is arranged for the near future? Or do you refer to a time set by a timetable or schedule?

Simple Present Present Progressive
action set by a timetable or schedule

The film starts at 8 pm.

arrangement for the near future

I am going to the cinema tonight.

Daily routine or just for a limited period of time?

Do you want to talk about a daily routine? Or do you want to emphasis that something is only going on for a limited (rather short) period of time?

Simple Present Present Progressive
daily routine

Bob works in a restaurant.

only for a limited period of time (does not have to happen directly at the moment of speaking)

Jenny is working in a restaurant this week.

Certain Verbs

The following verbs are usually only used in Simple Present (not in the progressive form).

  • state: be, cost, fit, mean, suit

    Example: We are on holiday.

  • possession: belong, have

    Example: Sam has a cat.

  • senses: feel, hear, see, smell, taste, touch

    Example: He feels the cold.

  • feelings: hate, hope, like, love, prefer, regret, want, wish

    Example: Jane loves pizza.

  • brain work: believe, know, think, understand

    Example: I believe you.

  • Introductory clauses for direct speech: answer, ask, reply, say

    Example: “I am watching TV,“ he says.

Exercies on Simple Present and Present Progressive

Tests on Simple Present and Present Progressive