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I have been using “starting suspecting” frequently thinking that it’s correct too but recently my friend corrected me. I don't understand why.

It is well-known that start to + verb and start verb-ing are interchangeable in terms of meaning:

  1. It started to rain.
  2. It started raining.

The sentences above mean the same thing.

There is also no problem with the verb suspect being used as a gerund-participle:


  • I started suspecting something was amiss.

There is no problem with using the verb start in continuous cobstructions:

  • It was starting to rain.

So what's the grammatical problem with the folowing?

  1. I was starting suspecting that something was amiss.

marked as duplicate by tchrist Mar 9 '18 at 23:37

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 1
    John Ross wrote a well known linguistics paper "Double Ing" on how to tell whether two consecutive -ing words are acceptable (I can't locate a web reference right now -- it appeared in a Chicago Linguistic Society volume.) Here is a previous SE discussion: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/44078/… – Greg Lee Jan 30 '18 at 7:44
  • @tchrist This any good for a reopen now? – Araucaria Jan 30 '18 at 19:04
  • 2
    Are you also asking what is wrong with "It was starting raining."? Because that has the same problem, but you've not mentioned it. – Matt E. Эллен Jan 30 '18 at 19:35
  • @GregLee This? [PDF]Doubl-ing. files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED058768.pdf by JR Ross - ‎1971 - ‎Cited by 146 - ‎Related articles FL 002 718. Ross, John Robert. Doubl-ing. Language Research Foundation, Cambridge, Mass. National. Inst. of Mental Health (DHEW). Bethesda,. Md.; National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C.. Jul 71. 51p.; In Language Research Report No. 4. MF-$0.65 HC-$3.29. Ambiguity; Deep Structure; Descriptive Linguistics ... – MetaEd Jan 30 '18 at 20:13
  • @MetaEd, Yes, or see the reference given above by user159691. – Greg Lee Jan 30 '18 at 20:17

"I was starting suspecting that something was amiss." First off "was starting" is passive and redundant. From every definition I saw, Present perfect progressive tense describes an action that began in the past, continues in the present, and may continue into the future. 1 So anything I'm "doing" the fact that I "was doing it" is implied by the tense. An action taking place NOW that began in the past makes the use of adjacent verb tenses unclear, redundant and awkward.

Edit: I started to suspect that something was up.

Past-tense to infinitive is the most clear and concise.

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