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Non-Continuous Verbs

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Many verbs are used in continuous tenses. Here are some examples:

Present continuous - I'm working at the moment.
Past continuous - Jack was cooking dinner when I arrived.
Future continuous - I will be playing tennis this time tomorrow.
Present perfect continuous - She's been working here for three years.

Generally, continuous (or progressive) tenses are used to describe what is happening at a particular moment in time. The focus when using continuous tenses is always on an action in progress. However, there are some important exceptions to using continuous tenses. Most importantly, there are a number of common non-continuous verbs that are never or rarely used with continuous forms. These verbs fall into a few categories:

Mental and Emotional States

believe
dislike
doubt
imagine
know
like
love
hate
prefer
realize
recognize
remember
suppose
understand
want
wish

Examples

She dislikes that boy. NOT She is disliking that boy.
Jack prefers going out for dinner tonight. NOT Jack is preferring going out for dinner tonight.
I recognize you! NOT I'm recognizing you!

Sense

appear
hear
see
seem
smell
sound
taste

Examples

I saw him when the train arrived. NOT I was seeing him when the train arrived.
It tastes strange. NOT It is tasting strange.
Did you hear that? NOT Were you hearing that?

Communication

agree
astonish
deny
disagree
impress
mean
please
promise
satisfy
surprise

Examples

You astonish me! NOT You are astonishing me!
I'm afraid I disagree with you. NOT I'm afraid I am disagreeing with you.
I meant to tell him yesterday afternoon. NOT I was meaning to tell him yesterday afternoon.

Other States

be
belong
concern
consist
contain
cost
depend
deserve
fit
include
involve
lack
matter
need
owe
own
possess

Examples

It depends on how much it costs. NOT It is depending on how much it is costing.
She said it involved a lot of work. NOT She said it was involving a lot of work.
It doesn't matter. NOT It isn't mattering.

There are also a number of verbs that don't take the continuous forms in one meaning but DO take the continuous forms in other meanings. Here are some of the most important:

Non-Continuous Meanings

feel = 'have an opinion' - He feels he should get a second chance.
see = 'understand' - I see what you mean.
think = 'have an opinion' - I think we should leave immediately.
appear = 'look like' - That appears to be stale.
look = 'seem' - It looks impossible!
taste = 'have a taste' - That tastes yummy!

Continuous Meanings

feel = 'feel physically' - I'm feeling awful this afternoon.
see = 'visit' - She's seeing a doctor this morning.
think = 'use the brain' - He's thinking hard about the problem.
appear = 'be on stage / perform' - Jack Daniels is performing at the Paramount tonight.
look = 'stare at' - I'm looking at that strange man.
taste = 'use the mouth' - The cook is tasting the sauce!

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