English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm Portuguese and my girlfriend German. Because she is a Germanic-language native-speaker, she is constantly correcting my English. Though, often it is annoying that she corrects me in grammar constructions that I take as valid in English and Portuguese, but not in German.

Are "we should be going" or "we should be eating" valid English phrasings?

share|improve this question
What, you have a problem with a German being hyper-corrective? Three words: Hier herrscht Ordnung! ;=) – Robusto Apr 5 '11 at 1:25
@Robusto: that's a rather awful misspelling of Ordnung muß sein! (^_^) – RegDwigнt Apr 5 '11 at 13:23
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Absolutely. We should be going can be a recommendation "we" be going (We should be going, or we'll be late) or a statement of likelihood that "we" will go (We should be going to the concert if all goes well).

share|improve this answer
From a girlfriend it's more normally an order, actually in girl-english all recommendations are actually orders – mgb Apr 4 '11 at 23:56
In the deontic sense ("ought") it means right now, not at some point in the future, as opposed to "we should go", which may be used for right now or for the future. In the epistemic sense ("it may happen") it is future, not present. – Colin Fine Apr 5 '11 at 10:01

Yes. That is correct. A verb followed by -ing may be used as if an adjective to describe what the subject is (or in this case should) be doing.

share|improve this answer
There's no adjective here. It is the "progressive" (or "continuous") verb form "be X-ing". – Colin Fine Apr 5 '11 at 9:51

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.