What are the differences between the following?

  1. I'm find that ...
  2. I find that ...
  3. I found that...
  4. I have found that...

Also, is "I'm find that ..." a correct way to begin a sentence?

Can you explain to me in example that exact meaning (and differences) of these phrases?

  • 1
    You wouldn't start with "I'm find that..." but you could start a phrase or sentence with "I'm finding that..."; for example: The longer I stay on ELL, the more I'm finding that we get a lot of interesting questions here. Your other three are simply variants of this same construct, but in a different verb tense. Someone may give a more detailed answer soon.
    – J.R.
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 4:58

1 Answer 1

  1. I'm find that ...

Ungrammatical: "I am find that" has two verbs in it.

There is no rule against two verbs, but one of them has to be an auxiliary of the other, like "I did find", etc. (But this is not strictly true in general; see note at the bottom).

"I am finding that ..." may be the grammatical form you are looking for. The auxiliary verb "to be" (in all its forms, like "is", "are" and "am") can take a gerund: to be finding, to be going, to be singing, ...

"To be" does not take an infinitive form: "she is walk*", "I am find*", "you are laugh*" are all wrong. On the other the auxiliary verb "do" does take such verb forms: "she does walk", "I do find", "you do laugh" are grammatical.

2. I find that ...

"In my ongoing experience ..."

3. I found that ...

4. I have found that...

"In the past, it was my experience that ..."

(Assuming that we are talking about a specific sense of "to find" meaning "to form an observation, or record something into experience", and not "to happen upon something by chance, or to discover or recover something after seeking").

The difference between 3 and 4 is the same as between any past verb and have + past participle. Certain situations call for one or the other. For instance, "Yesterday, I have found ..." is wrong, but "In the past, I have found ..." is fine.

Also, is "I'm find that ..." a correct way to begin a sentence?

No, just "I find that ...", or "I am finding that ...".

"I am finding that" has a slightly different meaning, which is something like: "I have not experienced this before, but I have recently started to discover that ..."


I find that a good way to cook "over easy" eggs is to use glass lid over the pan. [Not newly discovered; just a pervasive wisdom.]

I am finding that somehow I enjoy work less since getting that promotion. [New experience.]

When I was in that line of business, I found that it was difficult to find stable suppliers. [I am not in that business now, and don't know whether it is still hard to find stable suppliers today.]

Note: The rule given above, "you cannot have two verbs unless one is an auxiliary", is not true in general. Sometimes verbs are strung together as in "go find". In "I will go find it", the auxiliary is "will", and we can regard "go find" to be a compounded verb. And note that "go find" doesn't occur without an auxiliary, unless it is an imperative: "Go find it!", or a subjunctive: "I suggest that you go find it". In these special situations, we do have two verbs and no auxiliary. Note that "I go find it" or "She goes find it" are ungrammatical; an auxiliary of some sort must be used: "I {did | will} find it".

  • More precisely, be doesn't take a bare infinitival complement. It does take a to-infinitival complement. Also, most speakers permit a quasi-serial verb construction in which neither verb is an auxiliary; your statement would be better with a hedge word such as "generally". Last, I'm unable to figure out what "4 and 5" refers to in your answer--I imagined that Markdown had renumbered your examples, but that doesn't explain it, since you only have four numbered examples, not five.
    – user230
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 5:06
  • ^ That's largely just mumble-jumble to me.
    – Kaz
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 5:50
  • Then I can explain. Be with a to-infinitival complement looks like this: "He is to stay home today. Under no circumstances allow him to leave the house!" So be can take an infinitival complement after all, as long as it has the infinitival marker to. The QSV looks like "I'll go write him a letter" or "Come look at this". Because this exists, your generalization is strictly false ("one of them has to be an auxiliary of the other"), so you should insert a hedge word such as "generally". Last, there are no obvious referents for "4 and 5".
    – user230
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 18:10
  • @snailboat The generalization has to exclude compounded verbs like "go write". In "I'll go write" we have the auxiliary "will" and the verb "go write". The trick to defeating the automatic renumbering is it backslash-escape the period, so that it loses its special meaning; I fixed it.
    – Kaz
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 18:19
  • @snailboat Why do we insert the hedge word "generally" when something doesn't generalize? Haha!
    – Kaz
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 18:30

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