Progressive forms of verbs consist of a form of to be + participle. At least that is what most English grammars say or they are imprecise and speak of ing-form. My question is what follows after the forms of to be? - I'm working in the garden.
Is working here a present participle or rather a gerund? I asked myself this question long after I had left school, simply because one accepts what grammars say without much reflexion. But the longer I am thinking about this problem the more I tend to answer it is a gerund. I stumbled upon this through a curious way of speaking in German dialects. Normaly we don't use progressive forms in German, but some dialects make extensive use of forms such as - Ich bin am Aufräumen - word-for-word translation: I'm at tidying up.
Normally in English a prepoisition such as in "at tidying up" is omitted and it becomes: - I'm tidying up. In another forum, a German one about the German language, we made a study where in Germany dialects make extensive use of such forms as "beim/am Aufräumen" - and we found that these forms are in extensive use in areas along the River Rhine from Switzerland to the north, but also in the east of Germany and in the south. So it is reasonable to ask what form is used in English, participle or gerund. In Germany it is a gerund, a participle would be unusual. So it might be the same in English, but as participle and gerund have the same form it is really difficult to decide which form it is.
I derive the progressive forms from a formula with "in the act of doing": - "I'm working in the garden" means "I'm in the act of working in the garden." When you omit "in the act of" you get the normal progressive form.
I have placed this question earlier on another forum and could not convince the participants of that forum. Now I would like to hear the views on this forum.