Present Simple Usage 8: Action at the moment of speaking

Not only Present Continuous, but Present Simple can describe actions / states ongoing now (at the moment of speaking).

This happens when we use stative verbs that don’t usually go with Present Continuous. If we can’t use this verb in the Present Continuous, then we can use it in present simple but with the continuous meaning.

Present Simple with stative verbs to express a state at the moment of speaking

Actually, it depends on the context. In the sentence “He wants to go there,” it can be a state at the moment of speaking or just a general state of intention that he always, and not necessarily right now, has.

Now I understand why he did it (I understand it right now at the moment of speaking)

Other stative verbs:

likelovehatelookhear
suggestbelievewantseeneed
preferremembertastesmellknow

There are situations when you do use ING with these verbs… That’s why you need to review stative verbs that don’t usually go with Present Continuous.

Present Simple with action verbs to express an ongoing, continuous action at the moment of speaking (instantaneous actions)

Instantaneous actions definition

Instantaneous actions are the ones that are happening at the moment of speaking. However, the duration of such ongoing actions is so quick, so short. That’s why they have this name – instantaneous actions. And for such short actions, Present Continuous is kind of awkward, even if they have a lasting in time nature. They do last, it’s just they last so fast, that it is not enough to use Present Continuous. So, Present Simple comes in place.

This rule mostly, but not necessarily always, applies to sports commentary.

Messi, inside the area, shoots, it’s blocked…

As you can see, present simple can express actions / states happening “now” at the moment of speaking.

However, most of the time, we use present simple to express an action that happens regularly at certain frequency, including marginal frequencies such as always and never.

More on Present Simple:

Back to: Present Simple Tense

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