I have a new client staying with me on a two-week full immersion Business English course. She runs a very successful business in Italy. She needs English as she has started to forge strong relationships with some UK connections and doesn’t want to rely solely on interpreters.
During the first few days of the course, we reviewed some of her tenses and I noticed that she often uses the present simple and present continuous tenses in the wrong situations.
Whilst I don’t focus on grammar in my Business English courses (or my other courses for that matter), there are times when it is necessary to do so to avoid any misunderstandings.
For example, take a look at these two sentences:
- We produce solar panels in China (present simple)
- We are producing solar panels in China (present continuous)
Each sentence has a different meaning. In the first sentence, the present simple is used to show a permanent fact or a general situation. In this case, what we mean is that the company makes solar panels as a business – fact. In other words, it describes what the company does.
By contrast in the second sentence, the present continuous is used to describe a temporary or particular situation. In this case, the company is producing solar panels in China at the moment. There is a start and a finish to the event.
Here are more examples:
- Where do you work? In London. (Permanent situation)
- Where are you working? Paris this month, then Berlin next month. (Temporary situation)
- We find that the price of turkeys increases substantially the nearer we get to Christmas (Habit)
- The prices of Christmas lights are increasing. (A particular situation)
So, here’s the difference. Use the
Permanent situations, habits and routine and general situations
Temporary situations, events in progress now and a particular situation
As I mentioned above, it’s worth using these two tenses in the correct way to avoid misunderstandings when doing business in English.
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Ciao for now