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I have the following exercise in my textbook:

I can’t complain. I (run) my own consultancy business.

The context is “. . . conversation between two ex-colleagues who have not seen each other for some time.” It is asked to use the appropriate tense of run, one of the present simple and present continuous or both.

Both tenses are valid, according to the text book. Why is the present continuous valid?

Here, I think “run” is a dynamic verb. It is used to describe an ongoing action. Why, then, the present continuous? The activity of “running . . . business” hasn’t started at the time of speaking. The speaker doesn’t seem to suggest it is or may be temporary.

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  • This British Council site may be useful. Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 2:07
  • It says “we are using the present continuous to talk about activities at the moment of speaking . . .” This is a very general description. I’d like to know why exactly is the present continuous appropriate in my example. Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 2:31
  • you can also use the present continuous if running your own company is a temporary thing or a new thing.
    – anouk
    Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 16:29

1 Answer 1

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I can't complain. I run my own consultancy business, I have no health problems, I enjoy my life, I … .

You make a statement, and then list reasons to justify why it should be that way.

I can't complain. I'm running my own consultancy business, I'm healthy, I'm enjoying my life, I … .

You make a statement, and then describe your self.


The first one is more objective and distant. It describes your life, as it would appear to other people observing it. It perhaps leaves room for doubting the opening statement. One almost expects "But somehow … ." to follow.

The second one is more immediate and personal. It describes you as you are experiencing life right now. You are obviously happy with yourself. It gives an impression of sincerity and honesty. One almost expects "I'm so thankful … ." to follow.

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