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Present Simple or Present Continuous for German Speakers.

The German Präsenz makes no differentiation between an action that is happening at the moment of speaking, or happens repeatedly as a routine. Instead, a relevant time expression would make that distinction;

Ich arbeite taglich” - “I work every day”. (Present Simple).

Ich arbeite gerade” - “I am working now”. (Present Continuous).


The Present Simple is used for facts, routines, characteristics, habits, job titles and permanent states. Although it refers to things that are true (or false in the case of a negative sentence) in the present, it never refers directly to something that is happening in the present moment.

  • I work for an American company – Ich arbeite für ein amerikanisches Unternehmen.

  • We finish earlier on a Friday – Freitags haben wir früher Feierabend.

  • It rains a lot in England - Es regnet viel in England.


The Present Continuous is used for actions happening now, or around now.

  • We are currently looking for a new sales manager. – Wir suchen derzeit einen neuen Vertriebsleiter

  • He is training to be a sports coach at the moment. – Er macht zur Zeit eine Ausbildung zum Sportlehrer

  • I am working from home this week. - Ich arbeite diese Woche von zu Hause aus.

Keywords from German that would automatically trigger the use of the Present Continuous are; at the moment (im Moment), now (jetzt), at present (zur Zeit) right now (genau jetzt), basically, anything that could refer to something happening temporarily.

Stative verbs are almost never used in the Present Continuous tense; This means that we can use a verb in the Present Simple to refer to something that is happening; in the present – “I am in the office now”, “they think the system needs replacing completely” or “delivery costs almost twice as much currently”. (A full list of stative verbs can be found here).

Note: We often use the present continuous at the start of emails/letters in expressions like “I am responding to...”, “I am writing regarding…” or “I am contacting you about…”.


Excercise 1: Complete the following sentences by putting the verb in brackets into the correct tense.

  1. I __________ every week from Monday to Friday. (to work).

  2. We __________ for the delivery now. (to wait)

  3. I __________ for a new position at the moment. (to look).

  4. We __________ available 24 hours per day. (to be)

  5. I __________ in the office now. (to be)

  6. They __________ the interview room right this minute. (to use)

  7. I usually __________ three days a week in the office and two days at home. (to work).

  8. He __________ his phone at the moment. (to not answer )

  9. Our English colleague __________ German. (to not speak)

  10. I ___________ English now. (to learn).

  11. Every Monday morning we __________ a team meeting. (to have)

  12. Where ____he____ today? (to work).

Excercise 2: Saying what you actually want to say: Translate the following sentences, choosing the correct tense.

  1. Normalerweise, arbeite Ich von Montag bis Freitag.

  2. Sie benutzen jetzt den Interviewraum.

  3. Wir sind 24 Stunden am Tag erreichbar.

  4. Das Büro ist am Wochenende geschlossen.

  5. Wo arbeitet er heute?

  6. Keine Sorge, ich mache gerade nichts. (Ich kann jetzt telefonieren … usw.)

  7. Ich habe über 3.000 ungelesene E-Mails in meinem Posteingang.

  8. Ich möchte den Arbeitsplatz wechseln.

  9. Warum möchtest du hier arbeiten?

  10. Warum bewerben Sie sich auf diese Stelle?

  11. Spricht er gut Englisch?

  12. Sie sprechen kein Deutsch.

  13. Es hängt davon ab, ob er unser Auto braucht.

  14. Wir sind gerade dabei, einen neuen Lagerraum zu bauen.

  15. Die E-Mail sieht gut aus, Sie können sie jetzt abschicken.

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