Today in a newspaper I read this sentence,

For the first time in three months I have eaten something. I feel relieved.

So my question is that why can't I use present continuous? Using present indefinite seems odd to me because it means that the person mentioned always feels relieved.

  • 1
    "feeling relieved" sounds weird to me – bobcat Feb 8 '18 at 14:41
  • 'I'm feeling rather poorly.' and 'I feel rather poorly.' are virtually interchangeable in the UK. These Google Ngrams suggest that's true elsewhere. I'd say either form is acceptable in your example, especially if 'rather' is added as padding. The choice between present simple and present continuous is often not very clear-cut. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 8 '18 at 17:11
  • I've often noticed a preference for the present continuous among teachers and colleagues from South Asia and I've often wondered why. Thanks for articulating your point of view. In my dialect (Canadian) either would be acceptable but the indefinite is more common. – Al Maki Feb 8 '18 at 17:20

Senses, emotional and mental states, desires, opinions, and measurements are not usually perceived by native English speakers as processes and thus aren't usually couched in the continuous/progressive form.

*I am forgetting his name.

*I am preferring chocolate to vanilla.

*This pizza is costing too much.

These examples are highly non-idiomatic and would require an elaborately described scenario to make sense as normal English utterances.

I was finally able to eat something. I feel relieved.

This does not mean "I am in the process of being relieved," but rather "I am in a state of relief." It certainly does not mean I am eternally in a state of relief. I ate. I feel relieved. The relief is tied temporally to having eaten.


In English, the verb to feel is often used as a stative verb and in general, stative verbs do not take either continuous or progressive forms (and contrast with dynamic verbs which can).*

"I feel relieved." = "I am relieved."

To emphasize an awareness, consideration, or contemplation of the state (i.e., that act of feeling), one might use feel as a dynamic verb.

"I am feeling relieved." = "I am aware of/thinking about being in the process of relief."

However, this will still feel marked to some native speakers without something else to draw attention to a change in state or a temporary nature.

"I am feeling relieved, now." = "I was not relieved, but that has changed/is changing."

*The Farlex Grammar Book has a nice summary on stative verbs which includes this,

However, some stative verbs can be used in a continuous tense in certain situations, as when describing a temporary state that has begun and will end. This is becoming more common in modern English, and the prescriptive rule that stative verbs can never be continuous is becoming less strict.…

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