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Could you please tell me the difference between these two sentences and what they mean?

  • My girlfriend always thinks I am cheating on her.
  • My girlfriend always thinks I cheat on her.
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The use of the present progressive indicates an ongoing situation. In this case it implies she thinks you are currently cheating on her, probably with one, specific person.

In contrast, the simple present indicates a regularly occurring situation, something that you do over and over. Not necessarily in the current moment, but something you can be expected to do. So if she always thinks you cheat on her, that implies you do so from time to time, can be expected to do so again, and not necessarily with the same person.

Example:

I am eating lunch at noon.
I eat lunch at noon

The first sentence implies I will have lunch today but not necessarily at the same time every day. The second says that I usually eat lunch at noon, every day -- that it is a regular, expected event.

However, your examples are nuanced by the word "always", which also implies a recurring situation. So both actually end up meaning more or less the same thing -- that your girlfriend thinks you cheat on her regularly, and with different people.

[Edit] In informal conversation, the use of "always" here does not actually mean "all the time" but rather implies "more frequently than I like". So you would use it to indicate unwanted behavior. Examples:

That salon always charges me too much to cut my hair.

These shoes are always so tight when I first put them on.

Many English words like "always" or "totally" are used figuratively to imply something different from their actual meaning. Sometimes you have to interpret the meaning from context.

  • Thanks for respond. But isn't it wrong to use "always" with an ongoing action. I mean that her thinking is a repeatedly action. I mean what I understand from "always thinks" is that she thinks now, thought before and will think in future. So how is it possible to "always think" an action happening currently. I hope I could explain what I meant. – d.alex Apr 12 '17 at 18:55
  • It's not wrong since it relates to your girlfriend's actions, not your cheating. These are two separate (but related) actions. The sentence is a little confusing, but it's grammatically correct, and also the kind of thing native speakers say frequently. Most likely the "always" is used as emphasis to imply it's something you don't appreciate. – Andrew Apr 12 '17 at 19:02
  • As I understand, "My gf always thinks that I am cheating on her" doesnt mean an action habitual or repeated. she thinks now and what she thinks is happening or not currently but "My gf always thinks I cheat on her" means she thought before,thinks now and will think in future an cheating is also not currently more it is of long duration. am I right ? – d.alex Apr 12 '17 at 19:18
  • @b.east Please see my edit to my answer. It's most likely that "always" is used figuratively, not literally, and instead it implies that it's something you don't like. – Andrew Apr 12 '17 at 19:20
  • Thanks for all responds. I want to ask you one more thing that I couldnt find the answer. I would be appreciated if you answer it. lets suppose we have a sister and we everyday tell him to study and she everday says I will tonight. How can I explain this 1-She always says she will study that night. (i think tonight might be wrong) 2-She always says she studies that night. Thanks again. – d.alex Apr 12 '17 at 19:27
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My gf always thinks I cheat on her

  • From time to time your girlfriend thinks you cheat on her. There are periods of time where she doesn't.

  • Or, your girlfriend thinks you are cheating each time you do something X - the X would have to be from context or earlier stated. You may or may not be doing X now.

My gf always thinks I am cheating on her

  • Your girlfriend is continuously thinking you are cheating on her. If it was in response to something you did, it was one thing you did in the past. Whatever you did to make her think that, you are either doing it now or recently did it.

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