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This is from Macmillan English Grammar in Context by Michael Vince.

Alan Chester is a 25-year-old journalism student from Ohio who is taking six years to complete his undergraduate degree. In order to pay tuition fees and other expenses he is working four days a week in the university kitchen, while in the university holidays he does part-time job.

According to the book my answer "is working" is wrong.

I find it hard at the moment to study and pay my bills at the same time.

My choice "I find" is wrong.

Some students spend time experimenting with difficult courses before choosing their major.

I used "spend" it is wrong.

Could you please explain to me what makes my choices wrong?

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  • Also when your question gets closed, you shouldn't post it again. You should edit your question and wait for it to be reopened. Read this please. Normally the duplicate question will be deleted, but I am going to make an exception for you this one time. See the "edit" button under your question? Please use blockquotes and proper tags (try the "tense" tag).
    – Eddie Kal
    Sep 21 '20 at 16:14
  • Oh, I am really sorry. I didn't know that. Thank you so much. Sep 21 '20 at 16:20
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    Good job! I added two more tags to your question. I also reformatted it for you. To see how I did it and what formatting tools I used you can click on the "edit" button again and check out the current formatting. It takes some time to learn proper formatting, but I am glad you are taking your first step.
    – Eddie Kal
    Sep 21 '20 at 16:33
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    Is the first answer "works" instead of "is working"? Is the second answer "I am finding" instead of "I find"? Is the third answer "have been spending" or "are spending" instead of "spend" ? Sep 21 '20 at 16:40
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    Though I must say, I would have written similar answers like you if it had been my working assignment. I always get confused in such questions where tenses are required to fill the blank. Sep 21 '20 at 16:42
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In order to pay tuition fees and other expenses he works / is working four days a week in the university kitchen, while in the university holidays he does a part-time job.

I'm not sure about the work / is working - frankly they both sound fine to me. Works perhaps suggests that he'll continue working four days a week in the kitchen throughout his degree, while is working might suggest a more temporary arrangement.

I find / am finding it hard at the moment to study and pay my bills at the same time.

"I find it hard" expresses a general, repeated or regularly occurring difficulty. Here the phrase "at the moment" makes "I'm finding it hard" (progressive) more natural - though not mandatory.

Some students spend / are spending time experimenting with difficult courses before choosing their major.

"Spend" expresses a general or regularly occurring event, perhaps a pattern seen repeatedly over many years. "Are spending" is your observation of the current situation. "Are spending" might mean that it's only recently begun to happen, or at least one that you are observing first-hand and probably don't know to be long-standing.

In most of these cases you can use either form and it's just a matter of emphasis.

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  • I thought if it is long-standing I should use the simple present, as it's almost a fact. Sep 22 '20 at 7:17
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    Generally yes. I suppose if you were aware that it was long-standing then you would probably say "spend" instead. Perhaps I will re-word that bit.
    – rjpond
    Sep 22 '20 at 7:19

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