I'd like to what's the slight difference in meaning between I refuse and I'm refusing. For example:

I refuse to work this Sunday.

I'm refusing to work this Sunday.

I'm aware of the difference between the present simple and present continuous. But, in this case because of the use of the verb refuse and the context, the difference isn't clear to me at all.

I've looked into the subtle differences between the tenses and looked for an answer on the web but couldn't find anything that answers my question.

1 Answer 1


Ask yourself what is the difference between "I fish" and "I'm fishing". One is a general, blanket statement; the other refers to a specific ongoing event.

Likewise, "I refuse to work Sundays" would be a blanket refusal - you won't work Sundays, any Sunday. "I'm refusing to work Sundays" sounds like you are currently refusing to do so. This could imply that it is a temporary situation, or that you are engaged in some currently ongoing argument over the matter.

Of course, your specific example says "this Sunday", which limits the reach of either statement. Still, the former sounds more like an immoveable stance, whereas "I'm refusing" sounds like an ongoing discussion which could be subject to change.

  • You might say to your supervisor "I refuse to work this Sunday. I notified you weeks ago that it was my grandparents' golden wedding." You might tell a colleague "I'm refusing to work this Sunday. They can't force me to come in." Jul 11, 2022 at 10:58
  • Kate, thank you for your comment, but would you please clarify what you mean? Do you mean that "I'm refusing" is used in more informal situations? Jul 11, 2022 at 12:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .