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If I were to say,

Can't I just be wearing my swim suit already?

Would "be wearing" be improper English?

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...I have no problem understanding your sentence, although it is a little strange without any context. Then again, I can think of other perfectly fine sentences that are even stranger without any context... –  kitukwfyer Apr 28 '11 at 21:24
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5 Answers

Your sentence makes perfect sense in this context:

Parent: You need to wear something warm, and find someplace to change into your swimsuit.

Child: If I wear other clothes over it, can't I just be wearing my swim suit already? That way I won't have to find a changing room.

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Especially if they are Jewish and from N.Y. –  mplungjan Apr 28 '11 at 20:40
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"be wearing" is fine in certain uses:

I will be wearing a swim suit.

Will I just be wearing my swim suit?

I don't really understand your example sentence, however, so it strikes me as incorrect. Perhaps one of these will work better:

Why am I not wearing my swim suit already?

Can't I just wear my swim suit?

Am I not already wearing my swim suit?

"Already" seems slightly out of place as well but I can see how it would work with the right context:

Ugh, stop messing with my swim suit. Can't I just wear it already?

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Maybe your example sentence would work if you were indicating that you want your character in, say, a novel to "be wearing" a swimsuit in a certain scene:

You: Can't I just be wearing my swim suit already? My character is just about to go to the beach.

Author of the novel: No, your character has to look as unattractive as possible up until the beach scene. She can change in a bathroom there.

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I think there are proper ways to use the phrase "be wearing" (e.g., "Shouldn't you be wearing warmer clothes?") but I think your example is questionable at best.

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Technically, it's a properly formatted English sentence. You have the verb "cannot," followed by the subject "I," followed by the word "just," followed by the verb "be," followed by a state of being, followed by an object, followed by an adverb.

However, in this case, you're using the verb "be" as a helper verb with "wearing," making it another tense; in this case, the word "cannot" should be strictly followed by an infinitive (and while "be" is an infinitive, it's combined with "wearing" to form a non-infinitive tense).

I'm sure that several English majors could argue for days on whether or not that you're allowed to do this, but most people will see it as grammatically awkward and say that it's wrong. If you ask an average person off of the street, they may say that it's wrong, but they'll likely say that it sounds odd. I'd consider it to be wrong, and the correct form would be "can't I wear."

If a participle other than "wearing" was used, it could be treated as an adjective, which would be correct in all cases. For example:

Can't I be amusing?

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