In Spanish is very common to use present simple when you should use present continuous. For instance,

My father isn't working today because he's sick. My father doesn't work today because he's sick.

Well, I'd like to know whether my second sentence is wrong or it could be misunderstood.


  • It's not idiomatic in English.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 23:09

1 Answer 1


In English it is most often better to be explicit than implicit. Saying "My father doesn't work today, because he is sick", somewhat implies that your father never works on this specific day. For a better example, If your father were to take the day off every Thursday, regardless of the circumstances, It would be appropriate to say, "My father doesn't work today, because he has the day off every Thursday". On the other hand, If he were to simply take the day off one Thursday because he couldn't make it in, it would be more appropriate to say, "My father isn't working today, because he is taking the day off". For one more example, if you meet someone who smokes cigarettes it would be appropriate to say that this person smokes. But if you meet someone who doesn't smoke cigarettes but is having just one cigarette at the moment, you would say this person is smoking.

Use doesn't when the situation is a recurring situation, and isn't when it is a one time situation that most likely will not repeat itself.

  • In spite of the fact that I'm not sure that explicitness is a linguistic virtue specific to English, this is an insightful answer. I think there's more to does*/*is than recurrence. For instance for a one-time situation, you might ask "Does your father plan to work today?" Does also has an emphatic aspect. Contrast "My father likes working here" with "No matter what you think, my father does like working here."
    – deadrat
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 23:36
  • @deadrat Of course, but the asker of this question specifically wanted to understand whether he should use doesn't or isn't in a specific case. I wanted to compare and contrast the example he used to explain how others would most likely interpret what he said. I didn't think he would want me to give him a plethora of differences between doesn't and isn't, as a lot of the time, these differences can be case dependent.
    – coder guy
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 23:40
  • @deadrat Of course if he does want me to expound upon what I said and explain the differences in interpretation outside of the lexical example he provided, I would be happy to.
    – coder guy
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 23:43
  • @cape, This answer is presented in a very compact form so you might need to read it more than once. However it is excellent and covers all the important points so it is worthy of study. Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 0:50
  • Hi everyone. What I wanted to know is whether is grammatically correct to use present simple in a momentary situation. Imagine that someone call and ask you "do you want to take a coffee" and you answer "Ok, I don't work today because my boss has lost office's keys" ( it's a temporary situation, your boss doesn't lose office's keys every Monday)
    – cape
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 21:28

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