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"He's starting to look this way." "Researchers are just starting to look at the psychology of binge watching."

Is there ambiguity when using "starting to"? In the first sentence, he has not actually completed the motion and has yet to look "this way," but in the second sentence, "starting to" seems to just describe that they are in the beginning stages, but they have already completed the motion "to look" and are still in the phase. In addition, when people say sentences like "It's starting to rain" and "It's starting to bleed" the actions (rain, bleed) have already began and are continuing, but when using a sentence like "He is starting to sit" the action of "sit" is still in the middle of being completed and he has not actually sat down yet. If there is ambiguity, how do you tell the difference?

  • There's potential ambiguity when you say anything; get used to it. Be starting to VP is a construction that has parts. It needs the be, the -ing verb form, and the infinitive VP following to. That construction means that the subject has just given the first indication (the first that the speaker has noticed, anyway) that the subject is currently VP-ing, and appears to be continuing to VP, for at least one attention cycle. The differences in meaning between sentences you can construct with this come from the VP constituent, which can be any nonpunctual act or event. – John Lawler Feb 14 '15 at 16:28
  • Since it refers to recent and continuing events, the adverb just is used with it quite frequently, normally positioned between be and VP. – John Lawler Feb 14 '15 at 16:30
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Maybe it's just me for I see no ambiguity: "He's starting to look this way," "He is starting to sit," mean he began the act of looking or sitting but have not completed it yet."Researchers are just starting to look at the psychology of binge watching" means they just began researching the psychology of binge watching (i.e, it is a new research ground or unprecedented.)

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