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Mental states and the present continuous for a recent change in thinking

A statue of a man with his head in his hand
Denial by César Astudillo via Flickr
Use the present continuous with verbs about mental states and emotions to show a new way of thinking or that we are not sure.

Words that are used to talk about mental states are usually used in the present simple. These are words like find, realise, regret, think, understand, hope etc.). They talk about how we feel or what our attitude is towards something.

Examples:

  • I find this interesting.
  • She understands English.

However, we can use the present continuous to show that we have had a recent change in our thinking, that we are starting to think a new way about something or that we are unsure about something.

Compare:

  1. I regret being so careless. and
  2. I am regretting my decision to change jobs.

In sentence (1), I was careless and made a mistake. It has happened and I feel very terrible about it. I will probably feel bad whenever I think about it.

In sentence (2), I made a decision and at the time, I thought it was a good idea. However, as time passes, I am starting to feel more and more like it was a bad decision. I think I should not have done that.

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    I am from New Zealand. I lived in Japan for a long time, but now I live in Brazil. I am the founder of Poligo. I like to play guitar and video games and surf when I get the chance. I have a wife and two boys.
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    I specialize in teaching English to professionals and English teachers. I have taught English since 2001 in Japan, New Zealand and Brazil. I speak Japanese & Portuguese. I am the founder of Poligo and The English Farm (an online school for business English).

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