Hello Teachers

I have a question. The question is: why "I am now studying English in school" is more natural than "I study now English in school" ?

This question came originally from a Japanese guy (probably an English teacher) whom I had an online talk with on the usage of the verb "study". I told him that sentences like "I study English everyday" or "Most of the Japanese kids study English in school" are natural, but "I study now English in school" is not. And I added we have to say rather "I am now studying English in school". Then he asked me the question above.

I believe this question is of beginner's levels, but I myself could not find a persuasive answer to it. What I told him as the reason was only that English speakers take a personal activity of studying a language as a short-term event that will eventually ends, and it is a rule of English that they use a present progressive construct rather than a simple present construct for such short-term events. But he seems not to have got satisfied with this answer. So could you give me any better answer?

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Comments  (Page 2) 
Hello Abbie

So "I study English" and "I'm studying English" sound the same to you? To me, "I study English" sounds a bit weird when it stands alone. It is because I take "study" as a duration-limited activity verb, not a stative verb (like "live"). Am I wrong?

To Temico (sorry if I'm intruding, Abbie)

To me the first one is correct. You could imply an adverb like "occasionally", "sometimes", even "often" in the sentence. It refers to what you like and don't like, so the simple present is correct.

On the other hand, "I'm eating rice" could only refer to what you're doing right now, that is if you're you're happily eating your rice in front of your computer.
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Pieanne - you know you are always welcome. Fais comme chez toi (si nous pouvons nous tutoyer!)

I agree with your analysis; the present continuous is possibly one of the most commonly misused tenses, and I think it is quite difficult to understand the concept.
Merci, Abbie! Bien sur on se dit tu!
And how about the present perfect? Emotion: sad When I have to teach the concept, I always say it's a "chewing gum" tense between present & past. They usually like the idea...
Hello Abbie and Pieanne

I agree to your answers about temico's question. But as for "I am studying English", I think this doesn't necessarily means "I am studying English at this moment at my desk". Suppose you meet an old friend in town, and suppose s/he asks you :"What language are you studying in college?", then you can say "I am studying French now, but next semester I'll challenge Japanese too". Is this understanding wrong?

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Is that "chewing gum" in the sense that it is elastic and stretchy? Emotion: big smile
Hi, Paco Emotion: smile
I purposedly didn't choose the verb "study" ; you're quite right, "I'm studying English" also means your present courses include English. It's a general activity of yours at the moment. That's why "I study English" is also correct. I think the -ing form stresses the fact you're actively implicated in that study, whereas the simple present could be a characteristic: "do you know Paco? Ah yes, the guy who studies English!"
It's the same with "write a book". You'll hear:
"Hey, John, how are you? Still teaching English?" - "Oh no, now I'm writing a book" - and this conversation takes place in a pub.
On the other hand, you can imagine this:
"John, could you take the children/kids to school?" - "No, sorry, dear, I'm writing my book"
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I can find no reason why I feel so, but I feel like this way.

When I study English, I always use two dictionaries.:"study" is natural.
All of my classmates study English : "study" is natural.
I study English everyday: "study" is natural [habitual present]
Now I study English (??) : I would say rather "Now I am studying English" in this case.


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