Check out today’s Teatime Titbit: Back to Basics 1.
Starting the new week with an easy mini-quiz. Which of the following do you think are correct in each situation
- A) I live in Münster. B) I’m living in Münster.
- A) I’m working for company XYZ. B) I work for company XYZ.
- A) What are you doing in your free time? B) What do you do in your free time?
- A) Mostly I’m writing our invoices. B) Mostly I write our invoices.
- A) I ride my bike to work. B) I’m riding my bike to work.
Answers 1) A, 2) B, 3) B, 4) B 5) A – How did you do?
Surprisingly even some of the best English speakers often get this wrong! They overuse the Present Continuous tense (be + verb-ing), which should only be used for TEMPORARY situations (Now, at the moment, at present or today, this afternoon etc). The other English present tense form Present Simple is used for (MORE) PERMANENT situations – facts/habits (Gewohnheiten) /routines etc. In “I live in Münster.” & “I work for company XYZ.” they describe PERMANENT situations/facts. Naturally, if you really want to say that the above situations are TEMPORARY, then you can use the Present Continuous form and people would understand it as only TEMPORARY and instead of using ‘live’, we would probably use ‘stay’ because your PERMANENT address isn’t there. “I’m working for company XYZ for 6 months and staying here in Münster. I actually live in Cologne”.
Sentences 3/4/5 describe routines and habits, which in English need the Present Simple. One last tip to try to remember what’s right – if you use ‘GERADE’ in German, then use the ‘-ing form’ aka Pres Continuous with the idea it’s happening right now.
Have a great rest of the week. Take care. Dave