Both tenses are used to express future events, and both are related to the idea of planification, the problem is that we are not always sure when to use the simple present and when the present continuous, what kind of planification expresses future simple and what kind future continuous?
A. Present continuous for future events:
We use present continuous when we talk about arrangements. Something is discussed, planned, so that the event is almost sure. More than one person knows about it. Some preparation has already been made.
- Let’s say I want to go on holiday. I organise it, buy the tickets, book the hotel room, I have the holiday în August, now is June, but I can say: I am visiting Paris în August. (I have already planned it), or I am going to Paris în August.
- I am coming to you this evening. (We have already talked about, it’s sure, you know that and you are waiting for me with a coffee or a glass of juice).
- Let’s say you want to invite me or us to a film this evening:
Are you going anywhere this evening?
and I say:
I am sorry, I am meeting Joan this evening.
This means that I have already discussed it with Joan and planned the meeting.
Or I can say: Joan is meeting us for dinner tonight. This means we, aș a familiy or a grup of friends, have already talked to her and the plan is sure.
- I am visiting my Grannie next Friday! I talked to her and she is waiting for me on Friday.
- I am finishing work later today as we have a very a very urgent report to send.
- I’m going shopping after work today, I am meeting my husband în front of the Mall, it is already planned.
- I am so happy because my grandparents are staying in this evening. They have already talked with my parents and decided.
- I’m going to the cinema tonight.
- Joan is not coming to the party tomorrow.
- Is he playing chess next Sunday?
- I am not staying at home tonight.
All these are definite future plans.
B. Present simple for future events is used for actions that are fixed as something scheduled, which always occurs at the same time: as the school timetable, or the train/plane/bus timetable, the theater, cinema, TV shows times, or something related to.
- My bus to Bucharest leaves tomorrow morning at 6 am. (as always).
- What time does she finish work?
- The train to Sibiu leaves at 14.00 on Sunday.
- We take the exam next week.
5.The lecture begins soon so we need to return to the class.
- What time does the theater play start?
- The Mall opens at 10.00 don’t go so early.
- The TV show starts at 18:00 o’clock each evening.