If I am in front of a shop and a guy tells me the shop is closed, which of the following is correct?

  1. He tells me the shop is closed
  2. He is telling me the shop is closed

In the simple past it would be "he told me", right?

  • 2
    Your question is unclear.
    – TimR
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 11:39
  • 2
    For a given situation there is often more than one way to describe it. Are you asking if you're using correct grammar with each choice of tense, or are you asking if each tense could possibly be used in your situation?
    – Dan Getz
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 16:07

1 Answer 1


1 is simple present tense.

2 is continuous present tense

Read the references as there is subtle differences between these tenses with certain words that's hard to explain. Tell is not one of them, though.

Sometimes continuous present is an emphasized form of present tense, or to emphasize that something is happening in fact, right now as you are speaking. For example, you might hear in conversation:

A: He tells me it's closed.

B: He's telling you what?

A: It's closed.

B: No way, they should be open.

A: Listen! He is telling me right now it's closed.

So, there is not a big difference in meaning between these.

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