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Which of the following is more common in everyday speech:

  1. She is always mumbling to herself when she's reading.
  2. She WILL always mumble to herself when she reads.

Is that the emphatic WILL (denoting annoyance) or the Present Continuous construction that you are most likely to hear in a day-to-day conversation? Which is more bookish and which is more conversational?

  • I would say that the is version is more natural sounding. To make it more conversational make it She's always mumbling to herself when she reads. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Sep 8 '18 at 2:10
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The version with will is how a speaker of American English would normally indicate a habit or repeated action. It sounds like a prediction for the future. You could use it in a sentence like

If you're listening at her door, you will know when she has started reading, because she will always mumble to herself when she's reading.

but that is more like a prediction for the future than simply a statement of a general truth.

Normally, to indicate a general truth, we just use the simple present:

She always mumbles to herself when she reads.

We do sometimes use the present continuous to emphasize something or to indicate annoyance, like

She is always mumbling to herself when she reads!

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