Hello everyone. Today we shall continue discussing the differences between present continuous and present simple.
(A) We use continuous forms for actions and happenings that have started but not finished (they are eating / it is raining etc.) Some verbs (for example, know and like) are not normally used in this way. We don’t say ‘I am knowing’ or ‘they are liking’; we say ‘I know’, ‘they like’.
The following verbs are not normally used in the present continuous:
- I’m hungry. I want something to eat. (not I’m wanting)
- Do you understand what I mean?
- Ann doesn’t seem very happy at the moment.
We 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 about my plan? (= 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)
(C) HE IS SELFISH and HE IS BEING SELFISH
He’s being = He’s behaving / He’s acting. Compare:
- I can’t understand why he’s being so selfish. He isn’t usually like that.
(being selfish = behaving selfishly at the moment)
- He never thinks about other people. He is very selfish. (not He is being)
(= He is selfish generally, not only at the moment)
We use am / is / are being to say how somebody is behaving. It is not usually possible in other sentences:
- It’s hot today. (not It is being hot)
- Sarah is very tired. (not is being tired)
(D) SEE HEAR SMELL TASTE
We normally use the present simple (not continuous) with these verbs:
- Do you see that man over there? (not Are you seeing)
- This room smells. Let’s open a window.
We often use can + see / hear / smell / taste:
- I can hear a strange noise. Can you hear it?