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In a recent gap fill exam in my university, students were asked to choose the correct form of the verb "suffer" to complete a sentence essentially the same as the following. (Neither the previous nor next had any time expressions or clauses.)

Dr. Jones says that more and more people ___________ from sleep deprivation.

The most obvious answer is "are suffering", which is unquestionably correct. This was in the original answer key.

We queried whether or not "have been suffering" and "suffer" might also be correct.

"suffer" was accepted, but "have been suffering" was rejected.

My argument for allowing present perfect continuous was that although the sentence contains no time expression "more and more" implies a recent change/development. However, I've been unable to find similar examples. Any example I've found where "more and more" is used with PPC had a time expression such as "these days" etc.

Thoughts?

  • Nicky, could you please either drop any idea of "essentially the same as" and intead, post the real details, or explain why you changed it? – Robbie Goodwin Apr 15 '18 at 20:52
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  1. It seems OK to me.  (Disclosure: I am not an English professor, but I play one on Stack Exchange.)
  2. It is certainly used in the wild.  My Google search for "have been" "more and more" turned up many false positives (e.g., “I have been reading more and more reviews here”), but these examples seem relevant:
    More And More People Have Been Leaving New York, Census Says
    Gothamist (News, Food, Arts & Events)
    More and more studies have been supporting the concept of mindful eating when it comes to weight loss, weight control, and overall health.
    Food Network’s Healthy Eats

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