Both these tenses are used to express the present. However, we mostly use the simple present for actions that take place regularly and repeatedly, and the present progressive for actions that are taking place at the moment of speaking.
- He usually wears a hat, but he is not wearing a hat now.
Simple present is used for general statements about the present, and for actions that regularly and repeatedly take place in the present. We use the present perfect progressive to express how long an action has been taking place.
- I live in London. I have been living here for 3 years.
For actions that have lasted until the present moment or have just ended, we use the present perfect simple, especially if we want to emphasise the result. We use the present perfect progressive to emphasise the progression or length of the action.
- I have already done my homework.
I have been doing my homework for two hours.
Simple past is the narrative past form. We mostly use it for events that took place one after the other. Past progressive emphasises the progression of an action in the past.
- I was doing my homework when my friends came to see me.
We always have to use the simple past if a specific time designation is mentioned. If there are no signal words, we have to decide whether we’re just talking about an action in the past or if there is a connection to the present.
- He travelled to New York last week.
- I have never travelled to New York.
We use the simple past when we are describing events that took place sequentially in the past. If we look yet further back to tell about what happened before these past events, then we use the past perfect.
- The teacher corrected the tests that we had written.
There are various tenses to express the present in English. Here we'll explain when to use which tense.
- I am studying for a test. I have been studying for an hour, but I don’t remember what I have learned.
There are multiple ways to express the past in English. We have to choose different tenses depending on the situation.
- I was studying for a test when a friend I had met at the summer camp phoned me.
Depending on the situation, we have to use various tenses to express the future in English. Here we'll explain when to use which tense.
- The train leaves in ten minutes. We will have to hurry up or we are going to miss the train.