Present Simple and Present Continuous

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We are going to look at two present tenses today known as the present simple or simple present and the present continuous.

They are similar in that they both refer to the present time. However, there are some major differences, so let’s take a look.

We use the present simple

– for regular actions or events (per azioni ed eventi regolari)

• I go to the gym every Monday and Wednesday.
Vado in palestra ogni lunedì e mercoledì.

• I study English four times a week.
Studio inglese quattro volte alla settimana.

– for facts (per dati di fatto)

• The sun rises in the east.
Il sole sorge a est.

• When you heat ice, it melts.
Quando scaldi il ghiaccio, esso si scioglie.

– for schedules (per gli orari)

• The boat leaves at 6 a.m.
La barca parte alle 6 del mattino.

• The theatre opens at eight.
Il teatro apre alle otto.

We use the present continuous…

– to describe actions at (now) or around the time of speaking (per dscrivere azioni che si stanno verificando dove e quando si parla)

• She is studying for her exams right now so she can’t go to the cinema with you.
Ora sta studiando per i suoi esami, per cui non può venire al cinema con te.

• We are looking for a new house as our current one is too small.
Stiamo cercando una casa nuova perché quella di adesso è troppo piccola.

• Jack is learning Japanese because he is moving to Japan next month.
Jack sta imparando il giapponese perché il mese prossimo si trasferirà in Giappone.

– future plans (per progetti futuri)

• I’m taking my wife out to dinner tonight.
Stasera porto mia moglie a cenare fuori.

• We are having a party on Saturday night.
Sabato sera daremo una festa.

Remember that we can use adverbs of frequency with the present simple to express how often we do something. They are normally placed before the verb BUT are placed after the verb “to be”. Here are some adverbs of frequency:

every day/week/month, etc.
once/twice/three times, etc, a week/a month/a year…

Look at some examples:

• I always study hard.
Studio sempre molto.

• She never understands me.
(Lei) Non mi capisce mai.

• They are very happy people and are rarely sad.
Sono delle persone molto felici, sono tristi raramente.

Before the present continuous we may use:

at the moment
right now
For example,

• She is learning Italian at the moment.
(Lei) Sta imparando l’italiano adesso.

• Today we are eating out with Tom and his girlfriend.
Oggi mangiamo fuori insieme a Tom e alla sua ragazza.