I realize that idiomatically the present continuous is used to describe a current ongoing process, but is the tense necessary? Could the present tense with a current adverb suffice?

Is it grammatical to say:

I study English now.

Or, I study English currently.

Do I need the present continuous?

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    Your first version implies a contrast with the past (when you didn't study English , whereas the second one implies contrast with the future (when you will no longer be studying English). – FumbleFingers Jan 19 '16 at 21:00
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    Plus, the second one sounds pretentious. In conversation, neither are common. I'm studying English now. is far more common, though it has a slightly different meaning. It really depends on the context. To be clear... what is the term in response to? A question? Are you studying French at University? or What language are you studying now? – OneProton Jan 19 '16 at 21:12
  • The second one would be better " Currently I study English" but like the previous comment it needs the context. – rkchl Jan 19 '16 at 21:45

Whether a tense is necessary or not depends on the speaker's intention and the idiomatic background from which they cull their language.

The present tense can be modified with words such as now, currently, at present, at the moment, lately, etc.

As to whether present tense expressions that use these adverbials sound "artificial" "stilted" or "phony" is a matter of opinion. Often, what sounds "correct" to a native speaker is just a matter of their idiomatic background--even on "official" matters of grammar.

The verb "like" isn't used in the present continuous (not by me, at least) so those adverbials are normally used. Now, I like vanilla ice cream, is perfectly fine, as is, Currently, she likes Sherlock Holmes stories. There are a number of stative verbs that aren't normally used with the present continuous, love or hate being others.

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" I sudy English now " sounds odd.

Shakespeare could say so when Ophelia asks : “What do you read, my lord?”,

not "What are you reading, my lord?"

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