In the last couple of months I've noticed that there are certain time expressions after which the present simple or the present continuous converge and can be used withouth any change in meaning. Let me support my question with a couple of examples:

Example 1:

It's the last time I repair this umbrella

It's the last time I'm repairing this umbrella

Example 2:

When I make a salad, I always use clean hands

When I'm making a salad, I always use clean hands

I'm really confused as I can't find any grammar rule that would explain this curiosity. Perhaphs there isn't any. Any feedback will be much appreciated.

  • English, like most languages, tends to employ the least complicated form in common usage; this is obvious and natural, since the function of all language is to communicate ideas with the least possible effort on the part of both speaker and ilstener. Sep 15, 2016 at 8:15

1 Answer 1


In English, the simple present is used for habitual actions, and the progressive aspect is used for actions in progress, but an adverbial of time can restrict the time of the action, and habitual and progressive will converge if the defined time frame is either short (last time) or long (when[ever], always).

  • So, If I understood correctly: there is no real difference in meaning between the sentences I provided you with?
    – IGO
    Sep 29, 2016 at 12:50
  • That's right -- 'I [will] repair' and 'I am repairing' mean the same thing when the adverbial 'It is the last time' restricts the action to a specific time in the present or future (antecedent of 'it'). You would use 'I [would] repair' or 'I was repairing' if the time was in the past ('It was the last time').
    – amI
    Sep 29, 2016 at 19:09

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