These sentences are from "English Grammar in Use" Raymond Murphy. If I use present simple instead of present continuous would it be wrong? The book says present continuous means I do that too often more often than normal, but present simple means I do it every time. However can I use present simple in the book's examples?

  1. "I've lost my key again. I'm always losing things." Or "I always lose."

  2. "You are always watching television. You should do something more active". Or "You always watch."

  3. "John is never satisfied. He's always complaining." Or "He always complains."

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    Your book is correct! "I always lose things" would mean that you lose every object that is in your possession! "You always watch TV in the evenings" (every evening). "He always complains when X happens" (every time). Feb 18, 2022 at 14:48
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    I think it would be better to say that "I'm always losing things" means "I frequently lose things".
    – BillJ
    Feb 18, 2022 at 15:40
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    Your book says ** present simple means I do it every time.** If you mean to say that something happens annoyingly often, or someone does something too much, it's much more idiomatic to use the continuous tense. We would use the present tense with always to refer to things that literally always happen! Feb 19, 2022 at 9:15
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    I've already told you all that! You always watch TV sounds odd on its own (presumably the person doesn't spend all their time doing so), which is why I added in the evenings to make it seem more natural. Feb 19, 2022 at 17:57
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    Yes! See my second comment above. Feb 21, 2022 at 9:11

1 Answer 1


No, you can't.

  1. I am always losing things.= I lose things very often/too often than normal. (NOT I always lose thing.) There is a difference between 'I lose things very often/too often' and 'I lose things every time'.

  2. You are always watching television.= You are watching television very often/too often. (NOT You always watch television.)

  3. He's always complaining.= He's complaining very often/too often.

'I always do' and 'I am always doing' have different meanings.

There is a difference between very often/too often and every time.

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