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Is it possible to use the phrase: "We are meeting at last" when two people meet for the first time? For example, in a movie one person said: "We meet at last". Why did he use the present simple instead of present continuous? I mean, this was an action, which was happening at the moment of speaking.

  • Do you know about our sister site for learners, English Language Learners? – tchrist Aug 27 '16 at 14:43
  • @tchrist I didn't know about that site, thank you, I will ask my questions there going forward – siwy9 Aug 27 '16 at 19:18
  • Similar cases: I beg your pardon, Here comes the bride, I say it's a great idea!. – Damkerng T. Aug 29 '16 at 6:45
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Either usage is possible and correct grammatically. There is a subtle difference in emphasis between the progressive and the simple present. The simple present, "we meet", speaks of a an event that is completed as the words are spoken. The progressive, "we are meeting" emphasizes the ongoing nature of the action. By implication, the action of "meeting" may be appropriately regarded as ongoing until concluded by leave taking.

"We meet at last!" is conventional almost to the point of parody while the variant "we are meeting at last" is certainly correct but sounds vaguely exotic.

  • thank you for breaking this down. Could you also explain for me the part of your answer: "The simple present, "we meet", speaks of a an event that is completed as the words are spoken." - why we can use Present simple here as this is completed action? This "past" action is connected with present, so why we don't use the present perfect here? – siwy9 Aug 27 '16 at 19:16
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"Meeting" is something that happens, and then it stops. The meeting in your example is the initial contact. The two people come into contact, which is to say they meet. After that, they've already met. Now they're doing something else, probably having a conversation together.

The speaker in your example could say "So, Doctor Jones, we meet at last and now we are having a conversation." But that wouldn't have the same dramatic flair of a "So, Doctor Jones... We meet at last."

  • thank you for your explanation. Could you also please write me, why we use the Present Simple here? If I understand correctly, we treat that "initial contact" as something already in the past. So why we don't use e.g. Present Perfect here: We've met at last? – siwy9 Aug 27 '16 at 15:30
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    'Meet' is not necessarily used in the punctive sense. Collins gives the sense: << meet verb (2) to come into or be in conjunction or contact with (something or each other) >> The present continuous is certainly available here, and may sound less cheesy. The following are certainly idiomatic, possibly informing OP's example: 'So here we are, meeting at last.' / 'I can't believe we are meeting at last, but here we are!' – Edwin Ashworth Aug 27 '16 at 16:35

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