Please help me understand which tense it is better to use in the following situation: Alan meets Steve by chance. Steve doesn't recognise Alan, but Alan does recognise Steve. Alan is Steve's sister's English teacher. Alan wants to get to know Steve and a dialogue starts:

  • Hey, Steve, hello!
  • Hello, do we know each other?
  • I'm Alan – I ((teach) OR (am teaching)) your sister English.

What tense is it better to use (because I have found there to be different views on the situation)? It is a fact that Alan is an English teacher, so in theory I can use present simple. On the other hand it is a temporary situation (English classes will end sooner or later, everyone understands that). Although the action isn't happening at the time if speaking, the action is not still finished when they are talking. From this point of view, I should use present continuous.

Please tell me which tense would you choose. Also please explain your choice. Thanks for attention!

  • Those are both present tense. "Progressive" is an aspect, not a tense.
    – tchrist
    Jan 24, 2021 at 14:19
  • 2
    What's wrong with "I'm your sister's English teacher."? I think "I am teaching [her] English" would suggest that it was a private arrangement. If she is in his class at school or university, "I teach..." wopuld probably be more usual. Jan 24, 2021 at 15:10
  • I'd opt for "I teach your sister English". The present continuous construction has the nuance that it's a temporary ... / perhaps even sub-optimal situation. The present simple hints at a successful conclusion. Jan 24, 2021 at 16:03
  • @PeterShor that is, my question is actually similar to the question "What hair can be considered long?" ? Jan 24, 2021 at 16:33
  • @KateBunting I didn’t think at all about clarifying that Alan is a private teacher who gives extra classes. I just want to subtly feel the tenses, I want to understand how native speakers think. Thank you, your comment provided a bit of clarity. Jan 24, 2021 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


"I teach your sister English." states a fact that "I am your sister's English teacher." This fact is not related to changes in the future. For example, I can say " I like apples.", it states the fact that at this moment I like apples, and it does not matter if I like apples or not in the future. Therefore, the present simple tense can be used here.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .