Do you know that the English language can describe states not only by means of lexis, but also with the help of grammar? Different aspects of the verb are a way to show how an action extends or stretches over a period of time. To avoid misunderstanding while talking to your foreign friend, you should look closer at Simple and Continuous Aspects, which can be easily confused.
In general, Simple Aspect is used to describe facts, permanent and regular situations, habits and states.
Pushkin was a great Russian poet. (Past Simple –fact).
Ann usually jogs in the mornings in the nearby park. (Present Simple – habit).
I thought that it was wrong to leave the party before the end. (Past Simple – state).
It rains in England, so don’t forget to take an umbrella with you. (Present Simple – permanent situation).
Simple Aspect has some specific uses in the present:
It is used to comment on sporting events, instructions and news titles:
Bladen passes to Brown; he swings the ball over to the right.
Beat the eggs with two spoonfuls of sugar and add some milk, whisk the mixture thoroughly.
The Indian government signs a pact with the neighbouring country of China.
Past Simple describes short actions which happened one after another in the past:
Dr Hopkins woke up really early that morning, had a cigarette and started making a new plan for his future life.
Use Future Simple to make promises, threats, to talk about the weather, decisions made on the spot and to make predictions:
I will definitely come to help you this weekend.
Tell me everything you know, or I will never speak to you again.
This place is so stuffy, I’ll go get some fresh air.
I hope we will manage to collect all the necessary documents by Friday.
Continuous Aspect focuses on the duration of a temporary activity:
Jake is already sleeping after a long working day. (Present Continuous)
If you want to share your (or somebody’s) plans with someone else, do it by using Present Continuous:
Jane is flying to New York on Friday.
We can also emphasise that something is different from the usual state of things:
Mark is being so aggressive these days.
Use Past or Present Continuous with “always” to express irritation:
My ex-husband was always interrupting me, when I was speaking.
My cat is always jumping on me at night.
Past Continuous can also describe the atmosphere, actions in process which were interrupted:
Derek looked outside: the sun was shining, and a light wind was blowing and shaking the leaves.
While I was sitting on the bench and looking at children playing, a stray dog started to bark loudly.
The main thing is to distinguish between a process – a temporary action, and a state – a permanent one, while expressing your ideas. You have to do your best in order not to mislead your interlocutors while you’re describing a great trip you have been on or are planning to have.