I know that we should use Present Simple when we talk about things in general and Present Continuous when we talk about something incomplete that is happening around time of speaking. I also know that we can use Present Continuous even when we talk about very long periods of time like in the following sentence:

Kate wants to work in Italy, so she’s learning Italian.

Now lets consider this sentence:

Our children go to the same school.

I see that people don't use Present Continuous in sentences like the one above. Why? In this sentence we talk about long yet quite definite period of time (for example, they started going to the same school 3 years ago and will finish going to it in another 7 years because they will graduate the school). Please explain why, despite this reasoning, people still prefer to use Present Simple in the last example.

1 Answer 1


I can't give a technical explanation, but here's the subtle usage difference.

Our children go to the same school.

Is a statement of fact, outside of any other consideration.

Our children are going to the same school until the new middle school is finished.

So the continuous form implies a transient condition to the situation.

They are overlapping mostly interchangeable.

  • Thank you for your answer Johns. I remember the following example: "Ellie is a student. She is studying philosophy." Why is Present Simple used here? It's also statement of fact.
    – user341
    Aug 5 at 23:21
  • @user341 Yes, but it is a continuous situation, studying philosophy. She studies philosophy on Tuesday. Because it's just on Tuesday.
    – DTRT
    Aug 5 at 23:25
  • Perhaps my memory is cheating on me, but in that example it was also about a rather long period of time (for example, she specializes in philosophy and she studies it throughout her studies at the university). Would you prefer to use Present Simple in this case?
    – user341
    Aug 5 at 23:32
  • I suppose a university course is considered 'temporary' compared to a child's schooling or an adult's job. "Ellie is studying philosophy at X University. John teaches philosophy there." Aug 6 at 7:18
  • @KateBunting you said that "a university course is considered 'temporary' compared to a child's schooling". Do I understand correctly that actually it's a matter of choice and I could use Present Simple as well?
    – user341
    Aug 6 at 14:20

You must log in to answer this question.

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