Lesson 5: Common mistakes in English - Verb Think

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Common mistakes in English-Lesson 2

Students can easily confuse the simple present with the present progressive.

I've seen it quite often with the verb "think": I think or I'm thinking. What's the difference?

One difference is the kind of thinking

If you want to talk about your opinion, use "I think", that's the simple present. For example, "I think this is a funny movie", "I think this is a very good magazine". "I think" is very difficult to write in Japanese. When you use "think" to talk about your opinion, you can simply say "I think" or "I think that".

But if you talk about the process of thinking and "think" means something close to "decide, consider, reflect" then you need to use the present progressive: "I am thinking". For example I might say '' We're thinking of taking a trip to Canada.", we haven't decided yet but we're thinking about it.. So we're considering the idea of taking a trip, the process of thinking about it. Here is another example, with the calculator.."Shhhh, I'm thinking." So I'm telling you to be quiet because I don't want you to interrupt the process of my thinking. Get it?


Roomate 1: Why are you sitting here in the dark? Are you trying to sleep?

Roomate 2: No, I'm thinking about work There have been so many changes lately. I'm not sure I like them. Maybe it's time to find a new job.

In this exchange, "I'm thinking" mean "I'm reflecting on all the changes at work."

So in the example, the difference was the kind of thinking. Again, opinion requires "I think", the simple present, the process of thinking requires present progressive "I'm thinking".

Another difference is time. If you're talking about all the time in general use the present simple, "I think"..For example, let's see "I'm writing to my friend and I write "Hello Tracy, I just want to let you know that I think of you often and I'm sorry I haven't written for a while."

"I think of you often" so I think about her a lot, thoughts of her are in my mind all the time or in general. Back. Consider this example, my friend is in the hospital, I pick up the phone and I say " Hi, how are you? I'm thinking of you." I want to let my friend know that right now today thoughts of her are in my mind.

Ok, let's review the differences. We use the simple present " I think" to express opinion or to talk about our thoughts in general present.

We use the present progressive " I'm thinking" to describe how we consider or reflect on something or to talk about our thoughts at the time of speaking, meaning right now.

Here's the final note on grammar, do we say "I think that", "I think of" or "I think about"?

Let's talk about those differences.

Use "that" to introduce a clause, which is the whole idea with both a subject and a verb. For example, I think that it's difficult to write in Japanese. The clause in this statement is " it's difficult to write in Japanese."

Use "of" or "about" to introduce a noun, pronoun or a noun phrase.


Do you often think about Henry?


Are you thinking of him right now?

Kathy still thinks of her old boy friend Henry.

How do you know when to choose "about" or "of"?

You can use "think about" and "think of something" and there's usually no difference.

For example:

- What do you think about the new boss?

or What do you think of the new boss?

Both questions mean "Tell me your opinion of the new boss."

But consider these examples:

- Can you think of someone who can help?

- I need to think about all the possibilities before I make a decision.

In these two examples, remind me the use of the given prepositon.

Be careful!

Infinitives and imperatives will not use the proressive. For example we say:

"Think about it."

"Please let me think.''

" I want to think about it."

"I need you to think of a solution."

Let's try an exercise:

In this exercise, read each dialogue, then choose the correct verb to complete the statement.

For example, read this dialogue to yourself and then I'll tell you the answer.

Wendy: Have you seen all the James Bond films?

Jake: I have, and I think Sean Connery made the best James Bond.

Number one:

- Co-worker 1: How are the kids?

- Co-worker 2: Good, thanks, you know, I often think that parenting is harder than any office job.


Salesperson: Have you decided?

Customer: I'm not sure.

Salesperson: I think the coat looks great on you, it's on sale today.


Roomate 1: Let's turn on the TV.

Roomate 2: Shh..not now. I'm thinking. I need quiet to finish math problem.


Student 1: How did you like the class today?

Student 2: Our teacher explained things well, but I think that German grammar is difficult in general.


Husband: Why're you crying?

Wife: I know it's silly but I'm thinking of getting old and I feel sad that all the good things have to end.

Husband: Don't think of such sad things.


Magician: Think of the number between 1 and 100.

Child: Okay

Magican: Are you thinking of 43?

Child: No, 71. I guess you can't really do magic.


Son: Dad, What are you thinking? you have the funiest expression on your face right now.

Dad: Do I? I just realize that I look and sound exactly like my own father when he was my age.


Businessman 1: Do you want to make a deal?

Businessman 2: Let me think about it.


Eve: Do you really want to break up with me?

Brian: I care for you ,Eve, but I need time to think.


David: Is your family really going to move to California?

Claire: Maybe. My parents are thinking about it because my father got a very good job offer in Los Angeles.

Okay, thanks for watching. Happy Studies.

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