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Can the simple present sentence 'I read nearly every day' also be a simple past, because the past tense is also 'read'?

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Yes. Without any context, it is impossible to say which one it is in written English. However, with context, or when spoken, you will know immediately.

Context is vitally important in English.

A: "I am (present) sorry to hear you are (present) ill. What do (present) you do all day?" B: "I read (present) nearly every day." (present = /ri:d/)

A: "I was (past) sorry to hear you were (past) ill. What did (past) you do all day?" B: "I read (past) nearly every day." (past = /rɛd/

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  • That answers my question. Thank you.
    – Noaman Ali
    Feb 12, 2020 at 10:59

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