We know that grammatically the Present Simple tense is used when we're speaking about some mundane, every day, usual situations (especially when we list them)

For example, every day I drink a cup of coffee, play football and listen to music.

But we also know, that Present Continuous is used to highlight the "momentarity" (an action is happening right now) and the flow or length of the activity.

Sometimes I want to say: I am playing football at 5 o'clock every day, then I am drinking a cup of coffee and after that I am usually listening to music.

Despite the fact that 1) there are 3 listed actions 2) it is a repetetive timetable - everyday 3) we use usually, I still want to say that, highlighting the flow and enjoyment of those actions for me.

I understand this is incorrect grammatically. But how much is it incorrect, how do native speakers feel about it? Thank you.


Usually, I would expect to hear this kind of thing with specific reference to a future timetable or schedule, for a specific duration.

For example:

Q: What are you doing on an evening over the next fortnight?

A: I'm playing football at 5 o'clock every day, then I'm going for coffee, and after that I'll probably be listening to music.

If there were no time frame specified (if it were just an unprompted statement), there'd probably be a blank look and a response of:

What do you mean? When?

Notice also some simplification/changing of terms.

I've changed the coffee part to just "going for coffee", as in this context you'd refer more to the general activity, and saying "drinking a cup of" would sound too verbose.

"I am usually listening to music" doesn't make sense for the time frame context, as "usually" references what has happened in the past. This context is a future projection, so you would use "I will probably be". This is kind of the future version of "usually": If I usually do it, then I'll probably keep doing it.

Note: I've made a few assumptions here, and if you want to provide a specific context, I can add something a bit more tailored to my answer.

Update: Sports Star Interview Context

You wouldn't use the "I am" form in that context, because the time frame is not specified/infinite.

That answer would be appropriate if the question were, "As part of your training to become a champion, what are you doing over the next few weeks?"

With that being said, that sounds quite informal, so most likely in that context you would hear, "What will you be doing?" And the answer would follow, "I will be...", etc. I suppose there's a sense in which "What are you doing?" (present tense projected to the future) almost conveys "I'll be there/am there with you", which would seem intrusive.

A General Rule

I guess a rule of thumb would be this: Use the "I am" form when you are projecting yourself into the future, and sort of living it as you speak it, or anticipating it as if you were going to be doing it directly.

For example, if you were going to a concert next week, you might say, "I'm going to the XYZ concert," even though you're not actually on your way now (notice also that the time frame, or in this case the time of the event, is implied; if others weren't certain of this, they'd ask you, "Which one?"). It's as though you're sort of on your way anyway, due to anticipation, as though everything you're doing currently is recognised as leading toward that.

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  • Thank you for an answer! Do I understand you correctly that in case 2 people are speaking on (in?for?) a TV interview and the reporter asks a SportStar about his schedule: "what do you do to become a champion?", even though the correct answer would be: "everyday I get up at 9, play football at 10 and only then take a shower", you can also say: I'm getting up at 9 [you say 'usually' is forbidden in this context, ok, let's use 'every'] every morning, then I am playing football for an hour and only after that I go to take a shower".? – Hiwi9012 Nov 22 '19 at 14:26
  • @Hiwi9012: See my updated answer. – Chris Mack Nov 22 '19 at 15:24
  • Thank you very much! I'm polarized a bit: on one hand your scrupulous clarifications made it easier for me to understand your idea, - on the other, however, somehow I still try to find it difficult to 'grasp' intuitevely. Is it possible to get a destilled "rule of thumb" for a difficult-to-understand people like me :D If I am not exploiting your generosity, of course you've already helped a lot - thank you very much for that! I upvoted and accepted the answer (but because I am new here - it does not register that). – Hiwi9012 Nov 23 '19 at 15:19
  • I've updated my answer again. I hope it helps, and if you feel you have any examples that contradict the rule, I'd be happy to look at it further. :) – Chris Mack Nov 23 '19 at 19:10
  • Thank you, so if we use your rule of thumb, it would be better to avoid using the "I'm form" when speaking about the regular activity, even if we want to highlight the longevity of it - for instance: Everyday I'm playing football from 2-to-4, we are not supposed to say that, since everyday is almost usually and (as you said) - usually = closer to the past, (make an impression of some formed and set in stone habbits) for which simple present is a better tense ? – Hiwi9012 Nov 23 '19 at 21:36

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