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Someone has recently moved to a different city and says: "I meet new people through a reading club and I attend music seminars to get to know people".

Why does the person choose present simple and not present continuous: "I am meeting new people through a reading club and I am attending music seminars..." It is something that is currently happening in his life, a new situation. So why choose present simple? To me present simple sounds more like a general fact, not a current situation.

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  • And they are describing a general fact about their life. It's their lifestyle. They do it constantly - they visit reading clubs, they attend music seminars, they meet new people there. Similarly, the same tense is used when you talk about your routine. You brush your teeth in the morning, you go to the gym 3 times a week, you have dinner at 5 o'clock. Yes, every time it's new people but the pattern of finding them is the same. You go out - you meet them. If you do it regularly enough, it becomes part of your life - which is a good application of the present simple. Jun 6 '21 at 11:57
  • @Andrew Tobilko That's the thing, it's not a general fact, it's a new habit, he's doing it because he has just moved.
    – anouk
    Jun 6 '21 at 12:00
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Using the continuous form would be fine here.

By using the continuous form, the speaker would be highlighting the fact that the habit of meeting new people and attending music seminars is seen as being temporary. Indeed, one effect of the continuous form is to limit time frame of a situation. The perceived effect here would be that of presenting the habit as temporary.

With the simple form, the speaker does not bring the temporary nature of the habit to the foreground. Given the context, however, we naturally deduce that the habit will be temporary one. Without that context (that is, the speaker's recent move to new city), the hearer would no doubt understand the habit as being a permanent one.

See Depraetere, I. and Langford, C. 2019. Advanced English Grammar. A Linguistic Approach (second edition), 186-188. London: Bloomsbury.

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  • Would you also agree the continuous form is used to express that this is happening at this time in his life, presently.
    – anouk
    Jun 7 '21 at 6:55
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    Yes. The continuous/progressive form is not only used for a situation that is literally ongoing at the moment of speech. It can also include the idea of an interrupted activity, one that has begun before now, may (or may not) be taking place at the moment of speech, and has not yet reached its endpoint: 'I'm reading a really good book right now' can be said to a colleague when the book is at home on your bedside table. You don't have to be reading it at the very moment the sentence is uttered. (Contrast with 'Please leave me alone. Can't you see I'm reading?', said with book in hand.)
    – ctl
    Jun 7 '21 at 19:50

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