We use the present simple tense when we want to talk about fixed habits or routines – things that don’t change.

And we use the present continuous to talk about actions which are happening at the present moment, but will soon finish.

But sometimes there are some certain statements which make me wonder why the tense does no agree with its own definition.

For example: "You"re always cadging cigarettes from me." Why not to say "You always cadge cigarettes from me"?


Your question seems to be based on the assumption that each verb construction (present simple, present continuous, past perfect, etc.) has a single usage (or definition). This is certainly not the case.

It is true that "we use the present continuous to talk about actions which are happening at the present moment, but will soon finish". But the present continuous is also used for present happenings that will continue long into the future.

It is also used to talk about the future in the context of some arranged action:

  • I'm playing tennis with Jane after work tomorrow.

In the cigarettes example the present continuous is used to express irritation:

  • You're always cadging cigarettes from me.

Collins Cobuild English Grammar (p249) states:

5.24 The present continuous is also used with adjuncts of frequency when you want to emphasise how often the action takes place. This is often done to express disapproval or annoyance. The adjunct of frequency is placed after the auxiliary verb.

  • You're always looking for faults.
  • It's always raining.
  • And she's always talking to him on the telephone.
  • They are forever being knocked down by cars.
  • Possibly a duplicate, but +1 for the Cobuild reference. An often undervalued resource. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 15 '18 at 11:39
  • @Edwin Ashworth. Yes, I'm pretty sure this must have been covered before, but nothing showed up in a quick search. I like Cobuild's functional approach and find their numerous lists of words in the various categories very useful, e.g. 6.46 Adverbs of degree. – Shoe Jan 15 '18 at 12:09

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