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82
votes
5answers
12k views

How do the tenses and aspects in English correspond temporally to one another?

Non-native speakers often get confused about what the various tenses and aspects mean in English. With input from some of the folk here I've put together a diagram that I hope will provide some ...
21
votes
1answer
2k views

“The ticket is printing” vs “…is being printed”

You're standing in front of a ticket vending machine and it says "The ticket is printing". Is that correct or should it be "The ticket is being printed"? EDIT: If both are correct, which one should ...
13
votes
7answers
5k views

“I'm lovin' it”

How normal-sounding is the slogan "I'm lovin' it" to native ears? I know it sounded quite odd to me when I first heard it — and it still sometimes does —, but I can't even tell why. Sure, love is ...
11
votes
6answers
134k views

What's the difference between “I look forward to” and “I'm looking forward to”?

I just don't get the reasoning behind which one is correct in which situation. Typically I use the wrong one, or I use them when I'm not supposed to.
10
votes
2answers
10k views

“The train will leave” vs. “is going to leave” vs. “leaves” vs. “is leaving”

From the grammatical point of view all are correct, just the meaning are different, please bring your clarification, thank you. The Train will leave at 10:00 tomorrow morning. The Train is ...
9
votes
1answer
900 views

“You were already having been going to do that!”

From one of the Futurama episodes: Farnsworth A: You people and your slight differences disgust me. I'm going home. Where's that blue box with our universe in it? Farnsworth 1: Oh, ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

Is it really wrong to say “I'm hearing”?

Many grammar books claim that ‘see’, ‘hear’, ‘taste’, ‘smell’, ‘feel’ are verbs that aren’t used in continuous forms, and yet, we do hear and see it quite often used by native speakers. For instance, ...
7
votes
4answers
14k views

“Will be doing” vs. “will do”

What's the difference between: I will be eating cakes tomorrow. I will eat cakes tomorrow. And, when should I use the first form?
6
votes
5answers
1k views

Present perfect continuous and “for”

Why aren't you allowed to say "I have been knowing her for ten years" or "It has been broadcasting for many years"? But you are allowed to say "I have been waiting for an hour".
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Make “will have been going to go” correct

Is there a situation or question where the phrase will have been going to go is the best, most natural, or clearest response (or included in said response)? I'm asking this probably somewhat silly ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Present simple on temporary action

Mary is sleeping in the living room while we redecorate her room. Why is the present simple "redecorate" used? Present simple is used when there's something permanent, but they don't want to ...
6
votes
9answers
27k views

“have been working” vs. “have worked”

What is the difference between the following two sentences? I have been working here for 20 years. I have worked here for 20 years. The present perfect tense is used for repetitive or ...
5
votes
2answers
193 views

Why is the progressive form used here?

In February 1825 he married Julianne Thiemer, daughter of a property owner and well-established glove-maker in Seesen. Heinrich, a cabinet maker without property, a Beiwohner(boarder), was marrying ...
5
votes
3answers
988 views

Use of past and progressive tense

Can someone tell me which, if any, of the following sentences are correct: When she walked in, he was laying on the bed. When she walked in, he was laid on the bed. When she walked in, he ...
5
votes
2answers
187 views

Manipulativeness of the progressive aspect in “to be wondering if”

I am around a group of people who, for whatever reason, have developed the habit of talking odd tenses. I'm no English or grammar expert but here is what I mean. Instead of saying "Can I borrow your ...
4
votes
3answers
938 views

Future Perfect with the preposition 'since'

I have a question regarding the future perfect tense and which prepositions go with it. Understandably, by, for, and in work very well with the future perfect. By friday, I will have been working ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

The times are a-changing? Why a-? [duplicate]

I'm Italian so I don't know English very well. While listening to Bob Dylan songs I've heard some strange use of progressive tense (is that the correct term?), the title of this question is one ...
4
votes
3answers
520 views

*Joking* used in continuous form

"I'm only joking" and "She wasn't joking". Why is the verb to joke used in the present continuous, instead of the present simple tense? Is it because it's a dynamic verb?
4
votes
3answers
146k views

“Thank you all” — wrong or right?

On many occasions after we complete a speech, we often consider thanking our audience. In this scenario, I am not sure if "Thank you all" is the right English. Should it be "Thanking you all" instead ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Simple present vs. present continuous

What is the difference between saying: Are you still working there? Do you still work there? Which is more common in spoken vs written English? Google books returned results for both of ...
4
votes
3answers
6k views

Would have done

Please read the following passage. I will post my question at the end of it. Here is the passage: At home I locked myself in. Jason, my lawyer and lyn sent texts simultaneously at the point the ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

“I have been keeping ignoring you.”

Does this make any sense? I have been keeping ignoring you. Besides that it sounds awkward, my Chinese buddy who knows more grammar rules than I care to list said that the phrase is ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Achievement Verbs with the Progressive Aspect

I was reading a grammar and saw this. Achievement verbs describe actions that occur instantaeously. He solved the problem. He spotted the airplane. These verbs fall into two classes - one is ...
4
votes
2answers
224 views

“I went to the hotel you were staying at” vs. “you stayed at”

Is there a difference in meaning between these two sentences? I went to the hotel you were staying at when you were in New York. I went to the hotel you stayed  at when you were in New York. ...
3
votes
5answers
353 views

Is “be wearing” improper English?

If I were to say, Can't I just be wearing my swim suit already? Would "be wearing" be improper English?
3
votes
4answers
486 views

Future perfect progressive

When is the future perfect progressive used? I am trying to understand in which cases it should be used, but I cannot find any practice examples of sentences using that tense. I will have been ...
3
votes
5answers
20k views

“Will graduate” vs. “will be graduated” vs. “is going to graduate”

Which of the following sentences are correct? He will graduate in May. He will be graduated in May. He is going to graduate in May. Issue 1: Is the second one grammatical? Issue 2: ...
3
votes
3answers
7k views

Present Progressive or Present Continuous?

What is the correct term used to describe this tense in English — Present Progressive or Present Continuous? I see both terms used in grammar books.
3
votes
2answers
1k views

“I am starting learning xyz”

Is this sentence correct? I am starting learning xyz.
3
votes
4answers
7k views

“By clicking submit you agree…” or “By clicking submit you are agreeing…”

By clicking submit you agree to the Terms and Conditions. By clicking submit you are agreeing to the Terms and Conditions. Which is correct? Why?
3
votes
1answer
426 views

Present simple or present continuous?

Here is an exercise from Intermediate Language Practice by Michael Vince: Complete the following sentence with a present simple or present continuous form of the words in bold. Pat has ...
3
votes
2answers
202 views

Importance and relevance (and accuracy) of the distinctions of the two forms of the future simple tense [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What are the guidelines for usage of “will” and “is/are going to”? I am an ESL teacher in Thailand at a business college. I have been plagued ...
3
votes
3answers
184 views

“Be able to,” “can” in reduced relative pronouns

I am trying to remember whether the sentences below are correct: I don't know this guy being able to complete this task. I don't know this guy can complete this task. I think the first one is ...
3
votes
1answer
639 views

“I'll keep you company while you wait” or “I'll keep you company while you're waiting”

I know that while, like after, before, when, as soon as introduce time clauses, which require the present simple: I'll keep you company while you wait. But so many of the students have used the ...
2
votes
3answers
13k views

“I had a dinner” vs. “I was having a dinner”

A friend of mine showed a video on her Facebook wall post. She posted this: I had a dinner with Chinese friends, I was happy at that moment!! Should it be "I was having a dinner" instead of "I ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the difference between saying “I wasn't knowing” and “I didn't know”? [closed]

I was wondering what is the difference between I wasn't knowing and I didn't know? If I say, I wasn't knowing, I am talking about something unknown in past, the act of not knowing is finished, it ...
2
votes
3answers
782 views

Past continuous or past simple?

In this sentence, should I use past continuous form of the verb or past simple or it in the gap? Last night, I was sleeping in my bed, when I ------- (hear) a terrible noise. I ------ (get up) ...
2
votes
3answers
12k views

“How long have you [had/been having] this?” - Cont. or Simple?

I'm studying Present Perfect tenses at the moment and have been wondering what tense should I use in this example: How long have you [had/been having] this thing? So I know that in some cases ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Is the “is being employed” bit in this sentence grammatical?

Mr. Peter is being employed at our company as "Marketing Supervisor" as of 01.01.2010 till date with a monthly salary of 0000.0000
2
votes
1answer
620 views

Passive auxiliary verb or progressive one?

Uncle Vernon made another funny noise, like a mouse being trodden on.                —Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Is ‘being’ a passive auxiliary verb or a progressive one?
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Is this correct: “Water will be being drunk by Michael”?

I started with "Michael is drinking water", which I could convert to "Water is being drunk by Michael", which I could change to the past tense as "Water was being drunk by Michael". That leads me to ...
2
votes
4answers
267 views

Correct tense to express one's holding a professorship from 2007 to June 2012

When editing for a valedictory occasion, I came across this: "Prof. Li holds the XXX Professorship from 2007 to 2012." It is the tense of "holds" that baffles me. If the sentence was one of the ...
2
votes
2answers
168 views

Present Progressive or Simple Present for things that could be considered as a repeated action or as an action happening right now?

There's one thing about Simple Present versus Present Progressive which is still not quite clear to me. The rough overview is1: Use simple present for repeated actions, general things. Use present ...
2
votes
1answer
104 views

I see and I hear

Traditional English prescriptive grammar teaches that these two verbs, to see and to hear, when describing their sensory nature, should never be used in the progressive aspect of tenses. Thus I ...
2
votes
2answers
242 views

Which tense should I use in this situation? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Using the gerund two times in a row Here is the sentence: Just as on smoking, voices now come from many quarters (insisting or insist) that the science about ...
2
votes
1answer
367 views

Is it okay to use Past Simple with Past Progressive for two consecutive actions?

Is it okay to use Past Simple with Past Progressive for two consecutive actions? For example, "She added some water to the flour and was mixing it until she got a lump of dough" or should it be ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

“He was telling me that he is going…” vs. “He told me that he is going…”

Is it right to say He was telling me that he will go on a vacation next week. while recounting your experience? Even though "he told me that he is going..." seems more appropriate, I would still ...
2
votes
2answers
9k views

“I am going to bed” vs. “I will be going to bed”

What is the difference between saying the following? I am going to bed in a few minutes. I will be going to bed in a few minutes. Or I will be getting off here. Or, I guess, I will be ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

“It's taking me forever” vs “It has been taking me forever”

If you are writing a long report, which one sounds more natural: "Oh, this report is so long, it's taking me forever" or "Oh, this report is so long, it has been taking me forever"?
2
votes
3answers
539 views

Answering past simple question with past continuous

For example, — What did you do yesterday? — I was working. I presume this is not grammatically correct; however, I often reply in this way (I'm English). Also vice versa: "What were you doing ...