One of the challenges for people learning English as a Second Language is that English has two forms of the present: the Simple Present and the Present Progressive (sometime called the Present Continuous)
The Simple Present is what we use when we are talking about routines. For example, we perform many tasks or engage in activities every day, or every week, or once a week, etc. Anything that we do “usually”, “generally”, “often”, “daily”, “monthly”, “yearly”, “every Tuesday”, etc. uses the Simple Present. Here are some examples;
- I work at Service Canada. 2. Usually, I read my emails first thing in the morning. 3. I take dance classes on Thursday nights.
Even if we are talking about something we “seldom” (it means rarely), “rarely” or “never” do, we still use the Simple Present. Here are some examples:
- I never drink beer. I seldom work overtime. 3. I rarely stay up late on week nights.
The error that many people make is to use the Present Progressive when they should be using the Simple Present. As an example, when people are asked where they work, they often answer, “I am working at Service Canada”. That is INCORRECT. It should be, “I work at Service Canada”.
The Present Progressive (the ING form of the verb) is used for short-term actions, things we do NOT do regularly or usually. The closest equivalent in French would be the sense of “Je suis en train de….”
Here are some time words closely associated with the Present Progressive: presently, at the moment; currently, this week, this month, for now. Here are some examples:
- Right now, I am working at Health Canada until I get a permanent position with Service Canada.
- At present, I am developing a new computer program which will be implemented in September.
- I have been seconded to Shared Services. I usually work at Service Canada but I am currently working on a project at Shared Services.
There are some verbs, known as Stative Verbs (sometimes called Non-Continuous Verbs), which do not exist in the ING, Present Continuous form. To see some of them, you can click on this link:
So, you can say that every day YOU READ many documents, but right now YOU ARE READING this blog!