Present continuous and present simple 2

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We use continuous forms (I’m waiting, it’s raining etc.) for actions and happenings that have started but not finished

Some verbs (for example, know and like) are not normally used in this way. We don’t say ‘I am knowing’, ‘they are liking’. We say ‘I know’, ‘they like’.

The following verbs are not normally used in the present continuous:

likewantneedprefer
knowrealizeunderstandbelong
believesupposeremembermean
fitcontainconsistseem
recognize
  • I’m hungry. I want something to eat. (not I’m wanting)
  • Do you understand what I mean?
  • Anna doesn’t seem very happy right now.

think

When think means ‘believe’ or ‘have an opinion’, we do not use the continuous:

  • I think Mary is Canadian, but I’m not sure. (not I’m thinking)
  • What do you think of my idea? (= what is your opinion?)

When think means ‘consider’, the continuous is possible:

  • I’m thinking about what happened. I often think about it.
  • Nicky is thinking of giving up her job. (= she is considering it)

see hear smell taste look feel

We normally use the present simple (not continuous) with see/hear/smell/taste:

  • Do you see that man over there? (not are you seeing)
  • The room smells. Let’s open a window.
  • This soup doesn’t taste very good.

You can use the present simple or continuous to say how somebody looks or feels now:

  • You look well today. or You’re looking well today.
  • How do you feel now? or How are you feeling now?

but

  • I usually feel tired in the morning. (not I’m usually feeling)

am/is/are being

You can say he’s being … , you’re being … etc. to say how somebody is behaving now:

  • I can’t understand why he’s being so selfish. He isn’t usually like that. (being selfish = behaving selfishly now)
  • ‘The path is icy. Don’t slip.’ ‘Don’t worry. I’m being very careful.’

Compare :

  • He never thinks about other people. He’s very selfish. (= he is selfish generally, not only now)
  • I don’t like to take risks. I’m a very careful person.

We use am/is/are being to say how a person is behaving (= doing something they can control) now. It is not usually possible in other situations:

  • Sam is ill. (not is being ill)
  • Are you tired? (not are you being tired)

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