There should be some principle of using them safely, shouldn’t there? A safe rule of thumb is finding out what meaning the verb expresses in the sentence. Once you get the meaning correctly, you are in the position to decide whether there is something dynamic taking place or, on the contrary, something is said about a state characterizing the subject.
31 The simple present and the present continuous tenses
Put the verbs in brackets into the simple present or the present continuous tense.
(Adapted form Thomson & Martinet's 1986 'A Practical English Grammar')
1 Cuckoos (not build) nests. They (use) the nests of other birds.
2 You can’t see Tom now: he (have) a bath.
3 He usually (drink) coffee but today he (drink) tea.
4 What she (do) in the evenings? ~
She usually (play) cards or (watch) TV.
5 I won’t go out now as it (rain) and I (not have) an umbrella.
6 The last train (leave) the station at 11.30.
7 He usually (speak) so quickly that I (not understand) him.
8 Ann (make) a dress for herself at the moment. She (make) all her own clothes.
9 Hardly anyone (wear) a hat nowadays.
10 I’m afraid I’ve broken one of your coffee cups. - Don’t worry. I (not like) that set anyway.
12 Tom can’t have the newspaper now because his aunt (read) it.
13 I’m busy at the moment. I (redecorate) the sitting room.
14 The kettle (boil) now. Shall I make the tea?
15 You (enjoy) yourself or would you like to leave now? - I (enjoy) myself very much. I (want) to stay to the end.
16 How you (get) to work as a rule? -
I usually (go) by bus but tomorrow I (go) in Tom’s car.
17 Why you (put) on your coat? ~
I (go) for a walk. You (come) with me? ~
Yes, I’d love to come. You (mind) if I bring my dog?
18 How much you (owe) him? ~
I (owe) him £5. ~
You (intend) to pay him?
19 You (belong) to your local library?- Yes, I do. ~
You (read) a lot? ~
Yes, quite a lot. ~
How often you (change) your books? ~
I (change) one every day.
21 I always (buy) lottery tickets but I never (win) anything.
22 You (like) this necklace? I (give) it to my daughter for her birthday tomorrow.
23 I won’t tell you my secret unless you (promise) not to tell anyone. ~ I (promise).
24 You always (write) with your left hand?
25 You (love) him?-
No, I (like) him very much but I (not love) him.
26 You (dream) at night? -
Yes, I always (dream) and if I (eat) too much supper I (have) nightmares.
27 The milk (smell) sour. You (keep) milk a long time?
28 These workmen are never satisfied; they always (complain).
29 We (use) this room today because the window in the other room is broken.
30 He always (say) that he will mend the window but he never (do) it.
31 You (know) why an apple (fall) down and not up?
32 You (write) to him tonight? ~
Yes, I always (write) to him on his birthday. You (want) to send any message?
33 Tom and Mr Pitt (have) a long conversation. I (wonder) what they (talk) about.
34 You (believe) all that the newspapers say? - No, I (not believe) any of it. -
Then why you (read) newspapers?
35 This car (make) a very strange noise. You (think) it is all right? - Oh, that noise (not matter). It always (make) a noise like that.
36 The fire (smoke) horribly. I can’t see across the room. - I (expect) that birds (build) a nest in the chimney. —
Why you (not put) wire across the tops of your chimneys? - Tom (do) that sometimes but it (not seem) to make any difference.