🚨 Better Language

Never Make this Speaking Mistake

Apr 17 2022


Avoid making this most common mistake! Go wrong in this, and your scores will fall flat. This post looks at one of the most common errors that test takers make that affects their score heavily.

Never Make this Speaking Mistake - First Academy

What is the difference between...

I smoke | I work for...
I am smoking | I am working for...

It is not just tense, there is more to it than meets the eye. This short post will explain the difference

State and Action Verbs

Some verbs express "state" not "action"; Action verbs are considered 'dynamic', while state verbs are considered 'stative'.
- Dynamic implies change (action)
- Stative implies no change (state)

1. Most verbs in English are dynamic: work, live, eat, etc.
2. There are fewer stative verbs, but they are just as commonly used: know, understand, etc.


There are exceptions to the rule. Some verbs can be used as either stative or dynamic. This is where confusion rules.

Let us consider the verb 'come'.

I come from Finland.

Here the verb is being used in the stative form. The speaker is stating a fact that he is from Finland. The speaker is not travelling. The speaker is just stating the nationality.

In comparison, if the speaker says,

I am coming from Finland.

The speaker could belong to any country, we do not know the speakers nationality. We only know that he/she is travelling from Finland.

Another Example

He is measuring the cloth., It measures 3 feet.

The first use of the verb (measuring) is active. It means he is engaged in an activity (taking a tape or a ruler and then using it to see how long the piece of cloth is).

The second use of the verb (measures) is stative. No one is doing anything, we are only mentioning a fact.

Simple Present vs. Present Continuous

What it all comes down to is tense. When to use simple present and when to use present continuous. This is especially important when answering questions like:

❓ What do you do? (Stative)
🅰 I teach. (General fact)

❓ What are you doing? (Dynamic)
🅰 I am teaching tenses. (Something that I am doing now)


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