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I would like to know the difference between these two sentences. Are they different tenses? If so, what tenses are they in? I alternate between these a lot in my writing and I want to know what the difference is so I can be sure to be correct and consistent in my writing.

  1. My teachers allow me to skip the first unit tests.
  2. My teachers are allowing me to skip the first unit tests.

Thank you

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2 Answers 2

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Are they different tenses? If so, what tenses are they in?

Yes, they're different tenses.

"My teachers allow me to skip the first unit tests" is in the present tense. It means that this is generally the case. For example, it might be a rule that the teachers laid out at the start of the semester.

"My teachers are allowing me to skip the first unit tests" is in the present continuous tense. This indicates that it's something that applies at the moment, but it may not apply at a later time.

I think the difference is clearer for some other verbs, like "eating", because "allowing something" is a bit abstract. But it's more concrete when you have "A fox eats chickens" (they're part of its diet) vs "A fox is eating a chicken" (it's tearing chunks off and swallowing them).

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The first sentence means that your teachers already decided to let you skip the "first unit tests".

While the second sentences means that in the present moment, your teachers are confirming (i.e by ending a discussion about it) that you can be allowed to skip the "first unit tests".

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  • It's possible that "are allowing" means something like "are currently processing the authorisation", but it's more likely to be a case where the present continuous describes something that might be temporary -
    – Stuart F
    Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 13:47

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