7a) progressive aspect [cf. Michael Swan, Practical English Usage, OUP]
A progressive form does not simply show the time of an event. It also shows how the speaker sees the event – generally as ongoing and temporary, rather than completed or permanent.
- I’ve read your letter. (completed action)
I’ve been reading a lot of thrillers recently. (not necessarily completed)
- We’ll have to phone the plumber – the water’s running down the kitchen wall. (temporary)
When a progressive is used to refer to a short momentary action, it often suggests repetition.
Why are you jumping up and down? The door was banging in the wind.
Verbs NOT used in progressive forms:
Some verbs are never or hardly ever used in the progressive forms:
I like this music. [WRONG: I’m liking this music.]
I rang her up because I needed to talk. [WRONG: … because I was needing to talk.]
Some other verbs are not used in progressive forms when they have certain meanings:
I’m seeing the doctor at ten o’clock.
I see what you mean. [WRONG: I’m seeing what you mean.]
Many of these non-progressive verbs refer to states rather than actions. Some refer to mental states (e.g. know, think, believe); some others refer to the use of the senses (e.g. small, taste).
common non-progressive verbs:
Here is a list of some common verbs which are not often used in progressive forms (or which are not used in progressive forms with certain meanings):
a) mental and emotional states:
believe/doubt/feel (= "have an opinion)/imagine/know/(dis)like/love/hate/prefer/realize/recognize/remember/see (= "understand")/suppose/think/ (= "have an opinion")/understand/want/wish/
b) use of the senses:
appear/hear/look (= "seem")/see/seem/smell/sound/taste/
c) communicating and causing reactions:
be/belong/concern/consist/contain/depend/deserve/fit/include/involve/lack/matter/measure (= "have length")need/owe/own/possess/weigh (= "have weight")
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