English Review of Present Simple & Present Progressive


This module is a review of both the simple present and present progressive (aka present continuous) tenses. Present simple has one verb, whereas the present progressive includes a helping verb and a main verb ending in "ing."

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The present simple tense consists of a subject followed by a main verb in the present tense and then a predicate. The majority of verbs in the simple present are action verbs, though some are not. Here are some examples:

Jeremy plays the banjo.
Rebecca walks to school.
Sam and Bruce drink coffee at the cafe.

In English, the present tense of most verbs is formed by adding an “s” to the end of the verb for third person singular (he, she, it) and no endings for all other forms (I, you, we, they). Some verbs are irregular and have different forms:

He has a parrot.  (have)
She is tall.  (be)
They are noisy.  (be)
He does his homework.  (do)

The irregular verb “be” is conjugated in the simple present as follows:

am               we are
you are          you (plural) are
he/she/it is     they are

Note that modal verbs are found in the present simple tense, too.

you should
he may
she might
it could
we would
you all must
they will

The modal verbs in the present simple do not add anything when conjugated – they look exactly like their infinitive forms.

The present progressive tense is also referred to as the present continuous, because it refers to an action that is occurring at the present moment. This tense has two verbs: an auxiliary (be) comes first, followed by the present participle of the main verb (the verb + “ing” ending).

Present Present Progressive
I throw the ball.                                      I am throwing the ball.
We play cards.                                       We are playing cards.
She watches TV.                                    She is watching TV.

As can be seen in the examples, the present progressive adds the “ing” ending to the verb and the verb “be” is conjugated for the subject in the present tense. Note that the present participle of the main verb (with “ing” ending) never changes form.

The present progressive is commonly used in everyday conversation. It can also be used to refer to something that is about to happen in the immediate or near future.

The student is going to the library tomorrow.
We are leaving for Montana in the morning.
I am going to the grocery store soon.

Unlike the simple present, which often refers to habitual or routine actions, the present progressive conveys this meaning only when using adverbs to support it. For example:

My neighbors are always making lots of noise early in the morning.

This example uses the adverb “always” to indicate repeated occurrences of the action (making lots of noise).

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
I can write a short, simple postcard, for example sending holiday greetings. I can fill in forms with personal details, for example entering my name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.
Spoken Production:
I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.
Spoken Interaction:
I can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase things at a slower rate of speech and help me formulate what I’m trying to say. I can ask and answer simple questions in areas of immediate need or on very familiar topics.
I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
I can recognize familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.