Present continuous (I am doing)
Use the continuous for something that is happening at or around the time of speaking. The action is not finished.
Present simple (I do)
Use the simple for things in general or things that happen repeatedly.
Compare the following examples:
- The water is boiling. Can you turn it off?
- Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.
- Listen to those people. What language are they speaking?
- Excuse me, do you speak English?
- Let’s go out. It isn’t raining now.
- It doesn’t rain very much in summer.
“Don’t disturb me. I’m busy.” “Why? What are you doing?”
- What do you usually do at weekends?
- Lisa is in New York at the moment. She’s learning English.
- Most people learn to swim when they are children.
Use the continuous for a temporary situation:
- I’m living with some friends until I find an apartment.
Use the simple for a permanent situation:
- My parents live in Toronto. They have lived there all their lives.
I always do and I’m always doing
Usually we say “I always do something” (= I do it every time):
- I always go to work by car. (not “I’m always going”)
You can also say “I’m always doing something”, but this has a different meaning. For example:
- I’ve lost my keys again. I’m always losing things.
“I’m always losing things” does not mean that I lose things every time. It means that I lose things too often, more often than normal.
“You’re always -ing” means that you do something very often, more often than the speaker thinks is normal or reasonable.
- You’re always watching television. You should do something more active.
- Jack is never satisfied. He’s always complaining.