Start here to master the basics!
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 pre-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.
If you want more resources for this topic, check the sidebar on the left or these links:
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 Simple||Present 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!
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.
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.
If you want to revise how to use adverbs and expressions of frequency, check the grammar presentation. 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.
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.
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.
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.
We can also use the present continuous to talk about plans for the future.
Use these example questions to start a conversation.
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.