The Present Continuous and the Simple Present
Use the present continuous tense (also called present progressive) for an action that is happening at the moment of speaking. Use the present continuous for an action that is in progress at the present period of time, but may not be happening at the exact time of speaking. You can use words like this week, this month, this year, these days and today .
I'm eating dinner now.
Are you talking on the telephone?
I'm learning how to drive.
I'm going to work on the bus this week.
Is he studying ESL Level 6 this semester?
Use the simple present for regular routines or habits. You can use words like always,usually, never, every day, and twice a week to show how often.
I go to school every day.
Do you usually drive to school?
He doesn't drink coffee in the morning.
She often buys the newspaper on the corner.
I talk on the phone now. is not correct.
I'm waiting for the bus every day. is not correct.
I'm not often buying the newspaper on the corner. is not correct.
Use the simple present with stative (non-action) verbs; for example, with verbs about feelings, such as want, like, prefer, love, and hate.
I hate coffee.
She loves to swim in the ocean.
Do they like coffee?
I am liking coffee. is not correct.
Use the simple present with verbs of the senses, such as see, hear, taste, and smell.
They don't see the car.
This tastes wonderful.
The garbage smells bad.
Use look, taste and smell in the present continuous to talk about an action that someone is taking. Use the simple present for habitual activities or when there is no action.
I'm smelling the rose now. (I picked the rose up and brought it to my nose and sniffed--an action.)
I smell the rose now. (The smell of the rose is very strong and I notice it with my nose. I didn't try to take an action.)
The rose smells good. (There is no action.)
He's looking at the blackboard.(He moved his eyes to see the blackboard.)
That book looks very interesting.(This is an opinion; there is no action.)
She's tasting the soup.(She is putting some soup in her mouth to see how it tastes.)
She tastes the soup whenever she makes it.(This is a habitual activity. She does the same thing every time.)
The soup tastes good.(This is an opinion. There is no action.)
The soup is tasting good. is not correct.
The bus is smelling bad. is not correct.
I taste the soup now to see if it needs salt. is not correct.
The movie is looking very interesting. is not correct.
Use the simple present for verbs used with opinions and beliefs, such as know, think, understand, believe, mean, and remember.
I don't understand your idea.
Do you think he will come to school tomorrow?
What does "terrific" mean?
Use the present continuous of think to talk about an action someone is taking at the time of speaking; use the simple present of think when there is no action, but just an opinion. You can also use the simple present of think for habitual actions.
Why are you just sitting there? I'm thinking about my homework. (This is an action.)
I think John will buy a new car next week.(This is an opinion; there is no action.)
I often think about my family.(This is a habitual action.)
I am thinking that he will come to the party next week. is not correct.
What are you doing? I think about my family. is not correct.
Use the simple present for verbs about possession, such as have, own, and belong.
He doesn't have a new car.
They own their house.
That car belongs to me.
Have should always be in the simple present tense for the meaning to own, or to describe medical problems. For example:
They have a new car.
I have a bad cold.
I'm having a cold. is not correct.
He is having a house. is not correct.
Have can also have other meanings, and be an action verb. Then it can be in either tense, depending on the meaning. Here are some examples:
Have meaning eat or drink:
He's having lunch.
They're having tea.
I have lunch at 12:00 every day.
Have meaning give, like a party.
She's having a party.
They have a party once a month.
Have meaning give birth.
She is at the hospital because she's having a baby
Have meaning experience.
I'm having a good day.
We always have a good time on vacation.
Use the simple present with other common non-stative verbs, such as be, cost, and seem.
How much does that cost?
This exercise seems easy.
He is tired.