I keep seeing this expression a lot: I'm learning Italian, or I'm learning German. Understandably, they mean it's their recent project. But how about I learn German.? Not I study German. Learn.

The question is, what are the situations or conditions (examples) in which present simple of 'learn' could be used naturally, not just grammatically correct. One of them is : They learn German at school. Because, it's the constant activity of the school, not just the recent project of the students.

Things like 'Dogs learn quickly' or Birds learn to fly by themselves don't work for me. Coz those describe features and common facts. I need more of a 'I go to work' kind of examples. Things, that happen regularly.

I tried Cambridge and Longman. They mostly have past or infinitive forms for 'learn' It doesn't seem to get used in Present Simple a lot.

If you're British, don't just pass by, throw your five farthings.

  • I learn something new every day. Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 5:55
  • @JasonBassford - I thought you already knew it all!!
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 12:35

1 Answer 1


Here are some that might fit the bill:

He learns words nobody seems to know how. Yesterday I stopped to speak to him as I went to school, and a lady came, who had several teeth taken out by the dentist to prepare for a set of artificial ones. He noticed the change at once, and fixing his eyes on her mouth, said, " Ma'am, you're a natural curosity. " If he lives to grow up, I think he'll be something more than a common man. (Lucy Howard's Journal, Sigourney, L. H. (Lydia Howard))

" He learns stuff," he said, "and then teaches me." (Denver Post: 040628: ASECTION; Pg. A-01)

One of my district science directors says when he goes on Twitter, he learns things that make him smarter. (ACAD: Knowledge Quest, BACK TO THE FUTURE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT, Mar/Apr2015, Vol. 43 Issue 4,)

She stated that males " feel threatened by her, " and thus treat her differently. For example, they are more concerned when she falls, and more enthusiastic when she learns tricks which do not warrant the enthusiasm. (Alternative masculinity and its effects on gender relations in the subculture of skateboarding; Beal, Becky; ACAD: Journal of Sport Behavior Aug96, Vol. 19 Issue 3, p204, 17p)

  • These fit the 'features' and 'the adverbial when cause'(may be bad terming it) Like, he hits his dog. That's not his 'do' action, that's his quality. But how about 'I learn 10 new words every day'. Or as Jason Bassford suggested I learn something new everyday. I haven't found many of such in the Cambridge and Longmand examples. So it seems to be a regularity. What do you think ? How about 'I'm learning to drive' and 'I learn to drive' as separate statements. Or I go to learn to drive two times a week V.S. I learn to drive two times a week?
    – Burglar
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 6:59
  • I fail to see the difference between the situation I learn 10 new words every day and He learns things that make him smarter . Both denote a state of affairs true at the present time, and both denote repeated actions.
    – DW256
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 7:14
  • Also, learn when not in the progressive (be learning) denotes an achievement - a completed action - so when we say I've learned this it means we now have, for practical purposes, complete knowledge of it. This is why the present simple use of learn is usually restricted to bits of information or small skills - things we don't spend extended periods of time acquiring knowledge of or the ability to do.
    – DW256
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 7:19
  • @Burglar The simple present can also be used to describe a future event rather than something descriptive; Next week, I learn quantum mechanics. Although that form is not as common as I'm going to learn or I will start to learn, it's still used. Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 14:09

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