1

In order to emphasise the annoying aspect of a habit – be it someone else's or one's own – a continuous tense instead of a simple one is used:

People are always asking me silly questions!

I am always making the same mistakes!

I am angry with those people or with myself, with the subject of the verb. IN THE PASSIVE, the first sentence should become:

I am always being asked silly questions!

Doesn't this sentence sound awkward? Because the agent of the passive – they who I am angry with – have disappeared from the sentence, and it is not the grammatical subject – myself – I am angry with.

Shouldn't a sentence with a simple verb form be preferred?

I am always asked silly questions!

  • 1
    I don't think it's awkward. It's like saying I can't stand being kept waiting. – Alejandro Nov 20 '15 at 15:19
  • For reasons which aren't 100% clear to me, I am always being asked silly questions! sounds fine, but I am always making the same mistakes! seems like something only an "Indian English" speaker would come out with. In general, standard English speakers avoid the continuous in such constructions, but always can sometimes make a difference. – FumbleFingers Nov 20 '15 at 15:50
1

Strictly speaking, this issue is a matter of opinion. But I think it's worth noting these figures from Google Books...

(more formal versions)
1: I am always asked that - 91
2: I am always being asked that - 7

(more colloquial versions)
3: I'm always asked that - 57
4: I'm always being asked that - 15

You might say the sample size is too small to draw any conclusions, but it does suggest we're almost four times more likely to use the continuous form in relaxed, informal conversational contexts than we are in more formal contexts.


I think it's specifically the word always that "licenses" the continuous form in this context. Compare...

5: I am asked this every day (normal English)
6: I am being asked this every day (sounds like non-standard "Indian English" to me)

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