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 3) 
Now I study English (??)

As always, it depends on the context, and we come back to a previous example:
1. I used to study Chinese, but now I study English
2. "What are you doing these days?" - "I'm studying English"
3. "Can I come to do the math assignment with you?" - "No, sorry, I'm studying (my) English now"

Thank you for the help. To me the verb "study" sounds to be half a stative verb and half an action verb. Anyway I'm looking forward to hearing opinions from other people. Thanks.

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You're quite right about the verb "study", Paco. Same as "write" and many others I can't think of now.
Let's wait and see!
To paco,

I am only a student so you need not "pay respects" to me. Just like you, English is also NOT my native tongue but the difference between you and me is that I have started speaking/reading/writing it ever since I was 5 years old. I write from experience and am still not in a position to explain every "idiosyncratic" usage of English words/expression/terms/etc.
Temico - English is my native tongue, and I am still learning. So from that point of view we are all students, and hopefully will always continue to be. What is life if we cannot learn anything new?

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1] I now study English.

2] I study English now.

One way of describing the difference between the two is where to put the emphasis. In the first sentence, you put the emphasis on the time factor which is now. In other words you want to tell what you are dealing nowadays.

The second sentence is more common and put the emphasis on your studying activites of English.

I learned those things some years ago. I may be wrong.
To Andrei,

From my experience, "I now study English." & "I study English now." are the same if no context is given or if the word "now" is not stressed. I give you the following examples:-

a) I NOW STUDY ENGLISH being one of the foreign languages taught in school.(just another foreign language to choose from)

b) I STUDY ENGLISH NOW because I need a second language to get admitted to university.(just another foreign language to get admitted to university)
Hello guys

I googled on the uses of "I study Japanese" and "I'm/am studying Japanese". [The figures are the number of pages using the collocation given]

Now I study Japanese. 125
I study Japanese now. 7
Now I'm/am studying Japanese. 311
I'm/am studying Japanese now. 136

In the case of the verb being "study", users of present progressive structure are a bit more than those of simple present structure, but the difference seems not great enough to decide which one is more preferred among speakers. However, when "learn" is used instead of "study", it is likely people prefer present progressive structure to simple present structure.

Now I learn Japanese. 24
I learn Japanese now. 24
Now I'm/am learning Japanese. 269
I'm/am learning Japanese now. 375

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I teach in Japan so I can understand where the student's problem is coming from.

The student's problem is with the verb tense, not the meaning or placement of the "now".

In English we use "be + verb+ing" for the present continuous which describes something we are doing at this moment. For example: I am eating my lunch. I am writing this response.

We use the simple present to describe things that are habits for us.

For example:

I get up at 7:00.

I practice the piano every afternoon.

So, the problem with the man's sentince is the "now". He is describing something that should use a habit tense (study) but because he threw in the "now" it should use a present continuous to describe something he is doing at this moment. So it doesn't make sense. "I study now English in school." would be fine without the "now". Or if he changed his verb to am studying, it would be fine.

The meaning does change a little depending on which he chooses though.

"I study English at school" is a habit and a more fixed situation.

"I am now studying English at school" is something we are doing now that perhaps just started or may change in the future.

In Japanese they often use present continuous for routine actions so I would say his problems are coming from the verb tense.
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