Could you please explain what is the difference between the followings and when one of them should be used instead of the another?

My brother is doing a degree at university so I don't see him very often, unfortunately.

My brother does a degree at university so I don't see him very often, unfortunately.

3 Answers 3


I would like to add that "my brother is getting a degree" is a temporary situation, usually lasting a few years and that is why the present continuous is required. The present simple is used for permanent situations.

  • Thanks for clearing up the verb tense part of the question.
    – Element115
    Mar 1, 2018 at 20:51
  • Just one clarification. How long should last some event to be surely used in present tense?
    – vho
    Mar 2, 2018 at 6:11
  • Being a student is temporary, even though it lasts a few years, but you can`t be a student for 20 years. You can live in a country your whole life, or hold a job for 20 years. Then you would say I live in or I work as.
    – anouk
    Mar 2, 2018 at 9:21

Neither of these are correct. Usually you would instead write:

My brother is getting a degree at university, so I don't seem him very often unfortunately.

is getting implies the action is still in progress. He is still in the action of getting the degree.

I followed your sentence structure, but I think it would be better written:

My brother is getting a degree at university, so unfortunately I don't see him very often.

This sentence just flows a little nicer than the original.


For the record (as a native English speaker) I don't think there is anything wrong with saying "My brother is doing a degree". The phrase "getting a degree" would be more likely to be used when referring to future plans. For example

"My bucket list includes getting a degree"

rather than something which is happening in the present. In the present tense you would say

"I am doing a degree".

  • Edit: This may be an American/British English distinction. I am from England and the above is correct as regards British English.
    – user90741
    Mar 4, 2019 at 15:45
  • Please note that you can edit your answer by clicking the edit link underneath.
    – Glorfindel
    Mar 4, 2019 at 16:20

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