Present Simple & Present Continuous Conversation Questions.

These present simple and present continuous conversation questions are part lesson of a complete lesson on the present simple and present continuous. The exercises for this topic are here. This lesson is part of a free Intermediate English grammar course. You can see all of our grammar courses here.

The best way to understand when to use the present simple and when to use the present continuous is to practise in conversation.

Use these questions to practise when to use these tenses in context in speaking exercises.

Present Simple Vs Present Continuous (Habitual Vs. Progressive)

We often ask about usual things with the present simple. We can use the present continuous to talk about things in progress at this moment or around this time.

Use the questions below to practise speaking about habitual actions and actions in progress.

Present SimplePresent Continuous
What kind of books do you usually read?What are you reading at the moment?
What type of TV series do you like?What series are you watching at the moment?
What type of books do you like?Are you reading anything at the moment?
Do you enjoy studying?What are you studying these days?
What type of clothes do you usually wear?What are you wearing right now?
What type of music do you usually listen to?What are you listening to at the moment?

If you want to practise the basic rules of these tenses, try this test!

Present simple (for permanent states)

We use the Present Simple tense to talk about permanent states, things that don’t really change.

Ask and answer these questions with a partner or in groups. All of these questions can be answered with the present simple.

  • What is your name?
  • Where are you from?
  • How old are you?
  • Do you have any brothers or sisters?
  • Do you live in a house or a flat?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • What is your favourite food?
  • How many languages do you speak?

Present Simple for Habitual Things (with adverbs & expressions of frequency).

When we talk about how often we do things we usually use adverbs or expressions of frequency.

Use the questions below to practise talking about how often you do things. Try to use adverbs of frequency and expressions of frequency where appropriate.

  • How often do you…
    • have a shower in the morning?
    • watch a film in the evening?
    • get to work late?
    • lose your wallet / keys / phone?
    • eat take away food?
    • cook?
    • go to the gym?
    • go to the park?
    • see your friends?
    • see your family?
    • play games? what type of games do you play?
    • go to the cinema?
    • go on holiday?
    • drive?
    • use public transport?
    • dance?
    • listen to music?
    • have English class?

If you want to revise how to use adverbs and expressions of frequency, check the grammar presentation in the Materials tab of this lesson. If you want to test your comprehension of adverbs of frequency and expressions of frequency in this interactive exercise. You can download the reference graphic above to help study.

Present Simple (for non-action verbs).

Some verbs, like want, need, believe or know are described as “non-action verbs” or “stative verbs” because they don’t describe actions, they describe states. We generally avoid these verbs in the continuous tenses and leave them in the simple tense.

Use these questions to practise using stative verbs / non-action verbs in conversation.

  • Do you believe in ghosts?
  • Do you know anyone famous?
  • Do you need any help with anything at the moment?
  • What kind of music do you like?
  • Is there anything that you hate doing?
  • What food do you love?
  • What food do you hate?
  • Why do you want to speak English well?

Present continuous (for things in progress).

All of these questions can be answered with the present continuous tense and all refer to things in progress at the moment.

Ask and answer these questions with a partner or in groups. There are examples to help you start each answer.

  • Are you reading anything at the moment?
    • “At the moment, I’m reading….”
  • What (apart from English) are you studying at the moment?
    • “I’m studying…”
  • Are you watching any TV series at the moment?
    • “I’m watching…”
  • Are you doing anything at the moment that you don’t usually do?
    • “These days I’m ….”
  • What are you wearing today?
    • “Today I’m wearing….”
  • What are you thinking of doing this weekend?
    • “I’m thinking of…”

Present continuous and present simple for describing photos and pictures.

When we describe photographs, we use the present continuous, as if the action in the photo is happening now. We also use the present continuous to describe what someone is wearing at that time. We use the present simple to say what there is or are in the photo and we use the present simple to speculate with verbs like “looks like” or “seems”.

Practise describing what people are wearing and what is happening in the following photographs.For more information about how to describe photographs, check out this lesson here.

Example: In the first picture, two people who look like tourists are talking to two women in the reception of a hostel or hotel. The man is wearing a grey hoodie or sweater and the woman is wearing a green sweater. One of the receptionists is wearing a grey dress or top over a white long-sleeved T-shirt or top. They are talking and smiling. They look like they are happy to be on their holidays. Behind them there are some shelves and a bicycle on the wall.

Present continuous (for plans & arrangements).

We can also use the present continuous to talk about plans for the future.

Use these example questions to start a conversation.

  • What are you doing after class?
  • What are you doing this weekend?
  • What are you eating tonight?
  • When are you going away on holiday next?
  • When are you planning to see your family next?

You should now have a good idea when to use each of these tenses and this practice should help you easily remember which you need next time you’re speaking English! If you want to test yourself, try this exercise.

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