Tenses & Articles

20.07.2017 |

Episode #1 of the course English grammar by Kasia Sielicka, PhD


Hello and welcome to the course on English grammar!

The course is intended as a review course for intermediate and upper-intermediate (B1/B2) learners of English as a Foreign Language. If you’ve been learning English for a few years and have already learned a lot of grammar but want to review, this is the course for you! If your level is B1, you will find some new grammar here. If it’s B2, this course will be a great review.

The course tells the story of John, a handsome journalist who comes to London to work on an article but finds more than just information. ;) Each lesson tells a part of the story and then explains two grammar issues illustrated in it.

Have fun learning!

Hi, I’m John!

I’m a journalist. I have a cat and two hamsters. I live in Edinburgh, Scotland, where I work for a big newspaper.

But this month, I am living in London. I am working on an article on the Queen, and so I am cooperating with a London newspaper.

I love London, and I’m loving every moment of my stay here. My new colleagues are really nice, and everyone is being so helpful with my project. And there’s that amazing girl, Susan, at the desk by the window . . .


Present Simple vs. Present Continuous


John says “I live in Edinburgh,” but then, “this month, I am living in London.” This illustrates the difference between Present Simple used for permanent situations (things that are always true) and Present Continuous for temporary situations (only for some time). So, he usually lives in Edinburgh—his house, job, and family are there. But this month is different because of his special project, so he is living in London.

Another example:

He usually works for a Scottish newspaper, but now he’s working for an English one.


As you probably know, some verbs don’t like the –ing ending. They don’t usually go in Continuous forms. We call them “state verbs,” e.g. like, love, be, think.

But when we stress that some things are not always but only for some time, we can use them with “ing”! For example:

I love London, and I’m loving every moment of my stay here. “I’m loving” means “I’m enjoying.”

My new colleagues are really nice, and everyone is being so helpful with my project. They are nice people in general, but also this month, they are helping out a lot.




“I’m a journalist.”

Here, we have “a,” because “journalist” is a job. When we say what job we have, we use the indefinite article (a/an). More examples:

Margaret is a teacher.

Sarah is a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company.

George used to be a lawyer, but now he is a doctor.


“I have a cat.”

Usually, when we talk about something for the first time, we use “a/an.” The second time we mention this thing or person, we will probably use “the.” For example:

John has a cat, but the cat stayed at home.

I have a cat and a dog. The cat is cute, but the dog can be quite nasty.


“I live in Edinburgh, Scotland.”

“This month, I am living in London.”

There is no article before “Edinburgh,” “Scotland,” and “London.” This is because before most cities and countries, we don’t use an article. More examples:

My friend lives in – Warsaw. That’s the capital of – Poland.

We were planning to spend a few months in – Beijing, but as it turned out, we stayed longer to see more of – China.

However, there are a few exceptions to this rule!

Countries with articles are basically groups of smaller states: the UK, the US, the Netherlands.

There is also a city with “the”—the Hague.

Come back tomorrow to find out how John feels about Susan!


Recommended book

The Article Book: Practice toward Mastering a, an, and the by Tom Cole


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