UNIT 4. Present continuous and present simple (2) (I am doing and I do)
A. We use continuous tenses only for actions and happenings (they are eating/it is raining etc.).
Some verbs (for example, know and like) are not action verbs. You cannot say ‘I am knowing’ or, they are liking’; you can only say ‘I know’, ‘they like’.
The following verbs are not normally used in continuous tenses:
like love hate want need prefer know realise suppose mean understand believe remember belong contain consist depend seem
* 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.
When think means ‘believe’, do not use the continuous:
* What do you think (= believe) will happen? (not ‘what are you thinking’)
* You look serious. What are you thinking about? (= What is going on in your mind?)
* I’m thinking of giving up my job. (= I am considering)
When have means ‘possess’ etc., do not use the continuous:
* We’re enjoying our holiday. We have a nice room in the hotel. (not ‘we’re having’)
* We’re enjoying our holiday. We’re having a great time.
B. 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:
* Listen! Can you hear something?
But you can use the continuous with see (I’m seeing) when the meaning is ‘having a meeting with’ (especially in the future):
* I’m seeing the manager tomorrow morning.
C. He is selfish and He is being selfish
The present continuous of be is I
am being/he is being/you are being etc.
I’m being = ‘I’m behaving/I’m 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. Look and feel
You can use the present simple or continuous when you 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?
* I usually feel tired in the morning. (not ‘I’m usually feeling’)