How to use: Present Simple and Present Continuous Tense for IELTS

Now I am planning to take my masters degree in public health. I prepare for all requirements especially IELTS. I am studying English so that I can improve my skills and can be accepted by an Australia university.


Occasionally it’s difficult to decide between present simple and present continuous tense, even when using a straightforward time expression like now. There are several possibilities:

Temporary, around now, without interruptions

  • Don’t interrupt me! I’m writing a blog post!
  • Oh no! It’s raining.

These events, writing and raining, began in the past, are happening now, and will continue – at least for a short time – into the future.

Indonesian flag Indonesians – if you’re thinking ‘sedang’, this is for you.

Want to have an indication of your IELTS Writing skills before the real test? Register for our IELTS Indicator test at IALF Jakarta, Surabaya & Bali

Temporary, around now, with interruptions

  • The book I’m reading at the moment is fantastic. You should read it!
  • I’m building a studio in my house and when it’s finished you can come and have a look at it.

These events also began in the past, they may or may not be happening exactly now, but they will continue to happen ‘on and off’ for a short time into the future.

Notice that this time frame is very flexible. It can span seconds, minutes, even years!

Indonesian flag Indonesians – if you’re thinking ‘sedang’, this is for you.

Habitual (timeless)

  • Budi never wears a helmet when riding a motorcycle. One day he’s going to injure himself badly!
  • The IELTS test is held on Thursdays and Saturdays.

These events happen quite frequently and follow the same predictable pattern every time. It’s probable they started a long time ago and will continue a long time into the future, without any change in their predictable pattern.

Indonesian flag In Bahasa Indonesia this meaning is communicated using words like usually (biasanya) or never (tidak pernah). However, present simple tense in English already means ‘usually’, and so English native speakers might not say ‘usually’, even though they mean ‘usually’, for example I play tennis on Fridays.

Permanent (timeless)

  • live in Bali.
  • The Earth orbits the sun.

These events are permanent conditions that never – or almost never change. Even if I move to London, I will then say that I live in London, because living in a place is usually not something that changes frequently. If, on the other hand I go to live in London temporarily then I will tell everybody I’m living in London.


IELTS is not something people prepare for habitually – it’s something you prepare for, take, and hopefully never have to think about again. And so in our opening example I think our writer is talking about temporary time around now with interruptions (for sleep, food, etc.). In that case we need:

  • I’m preparing for all requirements especially IELTS.


I consider myself a reader. I read almost every day. I read novels, mostly, but I also read academic texts related to my work. I teach in a language school. Currently I'm reading a novel called The Cave by Jose Saramago. Saramago is a Nobel prize winner. His books teach us much about the human condition. Just now I'm taking a break. I go back to class in 20 minutes, and so I'm writing a post for my blog. I'd better finish it!

Read full article at GuruEAP