The aim of this post is to give you a set of materials to help you teach the difference between the present simple and continuous tenses. You can find several other resources on this topic here and here. Moreover, there is a great video by BBC called Grammar Gameshow.(more…)
Keywords are the easiest way for students to know which present tense they should use. If the students know them, they are more likely to choose correctly which present tense they should use in the given sentence. Moreover, once they remember and understand the keywords, they might be able to form the underlining grammar concept in their brains.
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In this post, I offer the following:
Keywords – infographic
Display or print the following infographic for your students.
Explain, that the easiest way to use the correct tense is to look for keywords. Once they find any of the words in the boxes, they choose the correct tense – present simple or continuous.
Mention that the colours show where the word usually goes in the sentence. Words in light blue squares come at the beginning of a sentence. Light green words come after the subject and the words in the dark blue squares come at the end of a sentence. This of course isn´t true in 100% of cases. Sometimes the words can appear in a different position.
You can print the full size image here:
Print the following exercises to practise the grammar and concept:
You can print the pdf file here.
Once you have finished your explanation, ask the students to do the first exercise. Students read the sentences and circle the keywords and underline the verbs. They use the red colour for the present continuous tense and blue for the present simple.
In the second exercise, students complete the sentences with the keywords.
In the third exercise, students put the verbs in the correct tense.
Once you finish the exercises, I suggest that you ask the students to learn the keywords by heart. It might seem a bit harsh, but to be able to use the foreign language, you have to know the words by heart. First ask them to learn the words for the present simple tense only!!!
Even though textbooks give both of the tenses the same amount of attention, in reality the present simple tense is between 5 and 20 times more frequent than the present continuous tense. Thus, if the students are not sure, they should use the present simple tense.
In my previous post I offered several resources to teach the difference between the present simple and present continuous tenses. There are several exercises and games including an infographic. But, as my students complained that the infographic was not that helpful I created a new one.
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In this post there is an infographic explaining the usage of the two present tenses using the key words and then there is a quiz where the students can practise their knowledge of the grammar.
I hope you like it.
Teach the present tenses – infographic
Display or print the following infographic.
Elicit the usage of the present tenses. Students should understand that the present continuous tense is used when there are the words “now, at the moment, right now and today“.
If the words like “always, sometimes, on Tuesdays” etc. are used the present simple tense is often used.
Of course, this explanation is not 100% grammatically correct but for some students (and many textbook exercises) it works very well.
Emphasize that the students do not have to learn both of the lists. It is enough if they learn the words connected with the present continuous tense and use the present simple in all the other cases.
Present tenses – online quiz
Once your students understand the grammar, they should practise it. They can do so either at school on an IWB or they can do so at home or on their mobile phones. Their task is to complete the sentences either with the present simple or present continuous tense.
Present tenses – Darts
I know I have already used this game in my previous post, but as I think the game is really great. You can buy the template and build your own game here.
Type the correct answer and then score as many points possible.
Sometimes it is very difficult for students to decide whether they should use the present simple or the present continuous tense. To help them decide correctly, I will share several activities with you. These activities make it clear which tense the students should use and how to form it.
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In this post there are two comic stories and an accompanying worksheet. Then there is an infographic focusing on the keywords which are often connected with the tenses. And the last activity is an interactive game to practise the usage of the two tenses.
Present simple or present continuous – Comics
Print the following comics for your students. First, read the comic with the present simple tense:
Now, print the following worksheet and your students should complete the first exercise.
Check the answers and then ask the students to write sentences into the table in exercise 2. It is a good idea to elicit the first line before they start.
In the exercise 3, students write about their normal day.
As an additional activity, you can ask the students to use the comic story and retell the American´s day. Thus they can practise the third person singular.
Now, it is time to hand out the second comic.
You can print the comic here:
Students should read the comic and answer the questions in exercise 4 in the worksheet above.
Present simple or present continuous – explanation
Elicit the difference between the two tenses. For some students the comics make it clear because they can literally see the usage.
Others might profit from the following infographic which focuses on the key words.
Present simple or present continuous – games
The first game is called noughts and crosses. Hand out the following grid and the key:
Students work in pairs. They choose a square where they would like to enter their cross or nought. However, they can do so only if they form a correct sentence using all the words of the coordinates for the given square. If they make a mistake they cannot draw anything. If they are not sure, they can check the sentence in the key grid.
The winner is the student who manages to draw four symbols next to each other.
The following game is called Quiz Darts. Your task is to put the verb in the correct tense and if you answer correctly, you can throw the dart. Your task is to score as many points as possible.
Present simple or present continuous – more
You can find several more activities here:
Which activity did you like best?
Present simple and present continuous are easy tenses to learn in English. However, as simple as they are, there are still many students who make mistakes in these English tenses. For this post I have collected the most common mistakes my students make. I believe it is much better to learn from the mistakes others make than to make them yourself and feel stupid.
I have included the following activities in this post to help your students avoid mistakes in present tenses: a mind map, a worksheet, an online game on present tenses and an online quiz. I hope you and your students will find them useful.
Present tense – mind map
Ask your students to study the following mind map:
The sentence in the white fields are the mistakes, in the blue fields there are the corrected sentences and at the end, there are explanations.
You should emphasize the fact that students most frequently leave out the verb TO BE in the present continuous tense.
Present tense – online quiz
I have prepared two online quizzes this time. The first one is in Flash and it will play only on desktops. The aim of the game is to highlight the mistakes students make in English tenses. In the game students should choose the correct option and then shoot all the bad ducks. They can shoot a bottle on the side of the screen and get a bonus.
The second is an online quiz in which the students should fill in the verbs in the correct form of the present tense. The passing grade is set to 75%. As this online quiz is in HTML5, they can do it on their mobile devices too.
Present tense – worksheet
The following worksheet contains only two activities. The first one is called Hidden Picture. The students should colour the squares that contain a correct sentence. If they colour the squares correctly, a shape will emerge.
The second activity is a simple fill in the gap exercise. The students should complete the sentences with the correct form of the verb.
Present tenses worksheet
Present tenses – download
More often than not I teach in classrooms with no internet connection, so I realize that it is important to be able to use the activities offline too. You can download the online quiz, the game, and the picture and use them offline:
Common mistakes present_tenses
I have already created two posts on the difference between the present simple and continuous tenses. There are Present simple or present continuous tense – improved and Present simple and continuous tenses posts. Both of them are good but as I have come up with a new idea, I want to share it with you in this post.
This post concentrates on the difference between the tenses. If you are not sure about the form of the tenses, you should see the following posts first:
In this post there are just two activities: a worksheet and an interactive quiz. I hope that they will help you with teaching the difference between the tenses.
Present simple and continuous tense – worksheet
Hand out the following worksheet (students have to work in pairs; one will need worksheet A and the other worksheet B) and ask the students not to show their picture to their partner. Ask them to describe what the people, whose names they know, are doing. Their partner has to listen and complete their own picture by filling in the names.
In exercise 2 they should complete the sentences with the correct names.
When they finish, it is time to explain the difference between the tenses. The present continuous tense is used to describe what the people are doing right now. However, when the students have a look at the rooms in their pictures they will see several objects there. For example, in the kitchen there is a basketball. James is not playing basketball now, but he plays it sometimes and that is why the ball is there.
You can go on like this with three or four more pictures. Then ask the students to complete exercise 3.
In exercise 4, students should take the picture and speak about it for 60 seconds without stopping or hesitating. Will they manage?
In the last exercise, ask the students to turn the paper over and write 10 sentences about it.
Present simple and continuous tense – interactive quiz
The following interactive quiz is based on the picture in the worksheet. It is ideal for homework or for a class where everyone has a smart phone with an internet connection. The quiz is in HTML5 and therefore will work on all mobile devices.
In the quiz students will practise the grammar they’ve learnt in the worksheet.
If you want to have the quiz on the full screen click the button below.
Present simple and continuous tense – more practice
If you need more practice, you could try the following pages:
Here are two useful videos: