We usually use simple verbs to talk about things that are repeated, permanent or completed.
eg. Present Simple: I often go to the gym. (repeated)
Present Perfect Simple: I’ve sent twenty emails today.(completed recently)
Past Simple: I lived in London for seven years. (completed)
We usually use continuous verb forms to describe a process and to talk about things in progress, temporary or unfinished.
eg. Present Continuous: I think I’m becoming more environmentally aware.(process)
I’m watching a DVD. (in progress)
I’m living with my sister at the moment. (temporary)
Past Continuous: I was walking to work when I saw my friend Tom. (in progress)
Present Perfect Continuous: I’ve been working here for ages. (unfinished)
Activity and State Verbs
– Verbs that describe feelings, opinions or states are not normally used in the continuous form.
eg. love, like, hate, own, be, know, want, need, understand, prefer
– Verbs that describe activities can be used in both the simple and the continuous form.
eg. work, play, do, walk, study, live, read, write, talk, cook, clean
Some verbs can describe activities and states but their meanings change.
This dress fits me perfectly. (It’s the correct size)
They’re fitting new gears. (To put in place)
I expect he’ll be late. ( I believe it will happen)
He’s expecting a client. (wait for)
I see why you’re upset. (understand)
I’m seeing an old friend tonight. (meet)
I think he’s very arrogant. (opinion)
I’m thinking of buying a new car. (consider)
She’s annoying. (permanent characteristic)
She’s being annoying. (temporary behaviour)
She comes from Turkey. (originate)
She is coming from Turkey. (travel)