present simple repeated activityThough the present simple is mostly used to show timeless actions or events, it does have different, less general uses. It can, for instance, show temporary states or be used in storytelling. As such, it is sometimes misunderstood to say it describes the time of hobbies through a repeated activity. It can be used for repeated activities, but it is important to recognise that this is an extension of its main use – for timeless actions or events. How, then, can something that is timeless also be used to show something that is repeated?


How the present simple shows repeated activities

The present simple can be used to demonstrate repeated activities. Present simple repeated activities occur as a general fact, the present simple does not indicate a particular time or event here, but can demonstrate how often something happens.

  • I play golf every Wednesday. (A frequently occurring fact.)
  • I sometimes study English. (An infrequent but recurring activity.)

These repeated activities do not have a beginning or end, even though they may specify a regularly reoccurring time (such as every Wednesday). They are therefore still timeless actions or events – with the added detail of specifying how often they occur.

Repeated events in the present simple are typically joined by adverbs of frequency, such as usually, often, always and sometimes. These adverbs usually come before the verb.

  • Jane usually buys our milk.
  • Elephants sometimes

To demonstrate schedules or specific times, a time may be placed after the verb, with frequency adverbs such as every or most.

  • I run along the beach every Saturday morning.
  • We meet in the town hall most

Frequency can also be shown with a preposition and noun phrase, for specific times that use fixed expressions, such as at the weekend, or when talking about specific days or dates, such as on the third Friday of the month.

  • She works at the weekend.
  • They deliver papers on Tuesday afternoons.

The important thing to take from this technique, in terms of use, is that all of these adverbs and times demonstrate frequency not a specific time. The present simple for repeated activities remains timeless in terms of showing a point in physical time (there is no beginning or end with these statements) – but presents a time for the purposes of showing how often something happens.


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