Present Simple or Continuous

Form and function for Present Simple here

Form and function of Present Continuous here

Permanent or Temporary

Compare

Permanent: They live in Zaragoza

Present Simple for facts and truths, we do not expect to change

Temporary: They are living in Zaragoza

Present Continuous for temporary situations, subject to change

Fact: It rains a lot in Manchester

Happening now: It is raining in Manchester

Stative & Dynamic verbs

Verbs are often referred to as "doing" words or words of action. In fact, verbs can be divided into two categories, dynamic verbs (actions) and stative verbs (states or conditions). It is these stative verbs that are not usually used in the continuous form.

Dynamic Verbs

Dynamic verbs can be activities, processes or actions.

Play, Run, Work, Swim, Kick, Dance, Laugh, Learn, Watch

Stative Verbs

Stative verbs have a degree of permanence or usually refer to a state or condition that is often unchanging. This is in keeping with the functions of the present simple, used to talk about facts and truths.

Senses

hear, smell, taste

The dinner smells burnt

NOT: The dinner is smelling burnt

I can hear the dog

NOT: I am hearing the dog

Possession

belong, have, own, possess

I have a car

NOT: I am having a car

That book belongs to Sam

NOT: That book is belonging to Sam

Mental processes/opinions

agree, believe, know, prefer, suppose, understand

I understand the grammar

NOT: I am understanding the grammar

I know the man who lives next door

NOT: I am knowing the man who lives next door

Emotion

hate, like, love, want

I love pizza

NOT: I am loving pizza

I hate Spanish music

NOT: I am hating Spanish music

States/Qualities

contain, cost, exist

The beer costs five pounds

NOT: The beer is costing five pounds

The product may contain nuts

NOT: The product is containing nuts

Performative utterances

promise, swear

I promise to return your money

Not: I am promising to return your money

 

Verbs that are stative or dynamic

Some verbs can be used as either stative or dynamic forms:

BE

  • Stative: He is very rude (a permanent characteristic)

  • Dynamic: He is being very rude (temporary behaviour)

FEEL

  • Stative: I feel you might be wrong (opinion)

  • Dynamic: I am feeling tired (emotion)

HAVE

  • Stative: I have a bicycle (possession)

  • Dynamic: I'm having lunch (action expressions)

LOOK

  • Stative: That roast beef looks delicious (appearance)

  • Dynamic:

        He's looking at the numbers now (action with eyes)

        I'm looking for answers (searching)

        Ben is looking after the dog while I am away (phrasal verb action)

SEE

  • Stative: I see the trees (perception with your eyes)

  • Dynamic: I'm seeing the manager today (to meet)

SMELL

  • Stative: It smells of vomit (the smell of something)

  • Dynamic: He's smelling the roses (using your nose) 

TASTE

  • Stative: Everything tastes like chicken (the taste of something)

  • Dynamic: I'm tasting the sauce (using your mouth)

THINK

  • Stative: I think it is a wonderful idea (opinion)

  • Dynamic: They are thinking about having a party (thoughts)

Related topics


Functions of the Present Simple here

Further uses of the Present Simple here


Functions of the Present Continuous here

Further uses of the Present Continuous here

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