For a frequently repeated action, usually when the frequency annoys the speaker or

seems unreasonable to him:


Tom is always going away for weekends.

(Present continuous) would imply that he goes away very often, probably too often in

the speaker's opinion.


7. for an action which appears to be continuous:


He's always working = He works the whole time.

This sort of action quite often annoys the speaker but doesn't necessarily do so


8. to describe current trends:


People are becoming less tolerant of smoking these days

The population of the world is increasing.





The continuous tenses are chiefly used for deliberate actions. Some verbs are, therefore, not normally used in the continuous and have only one present tense, the simple present. These verbs can be grouped as follows:

I.Verbs of the senses (involuntary actions): feel, hear, see, smell; also notice and observe (= notice), and feel, look, taste used as link verbs.

Verbs such as gaze, listen, look (at), observe (= watch), stare and watch imply deliberate use of the senses, and can, of course, be used in the continuous tenses:

Watch! ~ I am watching but I don't see anything unusual.

He is listening to a tape, but he's wearing earphones so nobody else

hears it.

II. Verbs expressing feelings,emotions and wish, e.g. admire (= respect), 1 adore, appreciate (= value), care for (= like), desire, detest, dislike, fear, hate, like, loathe, love, mind (= care), respect, value, want, wish.

But the continuous can be used with admire meaning 'look at with admiration', appreciate meaning 'increase in value', care for meaning 'look after', long for, mind meaning 'look after/concern oneself with', value meaning 'estimate the financial worth of, enjoy and sometimes like/love meaning 'enjoy', and hate meaning the opposite, though it is safer to use the simple tenses with like, love and hate:

He's enjoying his holiday in the Arctic He hates touristy places and

he doesn 't mind the cold.

I'm minding my own business.

How are you liking/Do you like your new job? ~

I'm hating it/I hate it. I just don't like work, you see.

III. Verbs of mental activity, e.g. agree, appreciate (= understand), assume, believe, expect (= think), feel (= think), feel sure/certain, forget, know, mean, perceive, realize, recall, recognize, recollect, remember, see (= understand), see through someone (= penetrate his attempt to deceive), suppose, think (= have an opinion), trust (= believe/have confidence in), understand. But the continuous can be used with appreciate meaning 'to increase in value', doubt, guess, imagine, prefer.

IV. Verbs of possession: belong, owe, own, possess:

How much do I owe you?

V. Verbs denoting abstract relations: be, have, depend, fit, deserve, include, involve, lack, need, resemble, appear (= seem), concern, consist, contain, hold (= contain), keep (= continue), matter, seem, signify, sound (= seem/appear):

It concerns us all. This box contains explosives.

But appear meaning 'to come before the public' can be used in the continuous.

VI. Verbs denoting physical properties of objects: measure (=have length, width, etc.), taste (=have a flavour ), smell (=give a smell), weigh (=have weigh).

VII. Verbs denoting effect or influence: astonish, impress, please, satisfy, surprise.

feel, look, smell and taste used in the continuous forms


feel, when followed by an adjective indicating the subject's emotions or physical or mental condition, e.g. angry/pleased, happy/sad, hot/cold, tense/relaxed, nervous/confident, is normally used in the simple tenses but can also be used in the continuous:

How do you feel/are you feeling? ~ I feel/am feeling better.

feel meaning 'touch' (usually in order to learn something) can be used in the continuous:

The doctor was feeling her pulse. Similarly, feel for meaning 'try to find something by touching':

He was feeling for the keyhole in the dark. But feel is not used in the continuous when it means 'sense':

Don't you feel the house shaking? when it means 'think':

I feel you are wrong and when it is used as a link verb:

The water feels cold.


The continuous is not used with look used as a link verb, e.g. That cake looks good, or with look on (= consider), look up to (= respect) and look down on (= despise) (see chapter 38). But look (at), look for/in/into/out and look on (= watch) are deliberate actions and can be used in the continuous tenses:

He is looking for his glasses.

I'm looking out for a better job.

3. smel l

The continuous is not used with smell meaning 'perceive a scent/an odour', e.g. I smell gas, or with smell used as a link verb, but can be used with smell meaning 'sniff at':

Why are you smelling the milk? Does it smell sour?


taste as a link verb is not used in the continuous:

This coffee tastes bitter, (has a bitter taste) But taste meaning 'to test the flavour of can be used in the continuous:

She was tasting the pudding to see if it was sweet enough.

see and hear used in the continuous forms

1. see can be used in the continuous when it means 'meet by appointment' (usually for business), 'interview':

The director is seeing the applicants this morning,

1 am seeing my solicitor tomorrow.

Also when it means 'visit' (usually as a tourist):

Tom is seeing the town/the sights.

It can also be used in the continuous in the following combinations: see about = make arrangements or enquiries:

We are seeing about a work permit for you. (trying to arrange this) see to = arrange, put right, deal with:

The plumber is here. He is seeing to the leak in our tank. see somebody out = escort him/her to the door. see somebody home = escort him/her home, see somebody to + place = escort him/her to + place:

ANN: Is Bill seeing you home after the party?

MARY: No, he's just seeing me to my bus.

see someone off = say goodbye to a departing traveller at the starting point of his journey (usually the station, airport etc.):

We 're leaving tomorrow. Bill is seeing us off at the airport.

2. hear can be used in the continuous when it means 'listen formally to' (complaints/evidence etc.):

The court is hearing evidence this afternoon.

hear meaning 'receive news or letters' can also be used in the continuous form but only in the present perfect and future:

I've been hearing all about your accident.

You 'll be hearing about the new scheme at our next meeting.

think, assume and expect used in the continuous forms

1.think can be used in the continuous when no opinion is given or asked for:

What are you thinking about? -I'm thinking about the play we saw last night.


What do you think of it? (opinion asked for) ~ / don't think much of it. (opinion given)

Tom is thinking of emigrating. What do you think of the idea? ~

I think it is a stupid idea. He should stay where he is.

2. assume can be used in the continuous when it means 'accept as a starting point':

I'm assuming that you have time to do a lot of research.

assume power/control of a country or organization can also be the continuous:

The new government is assuming power at once.

3.expect can be used in the continuous when it means “await:

I'm expecting a letter. She's expecting a baby in May.




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