Recently l came across the following construction:

The river which is afflicted with black lobsters is losing its fish soon.

I am wondering why the writer used 'is losing' instead of the more natural 'is going to lose'. Would anyone clear up my doubts please?


'Is losing' could only reasonably be paired with 'soon' when the timescale is far more certain, a punctive (abrupt rather than gradual / continuous) event is being referred to, and in an informal register:

'They're losing their free TV licences soon.'

Soon refers to a punctive event (even in 'he was soon riding his bike again', the change involved, from non-riding to riding, is punctive; we wouldn't say "I am soon riding my bike") and thus usually takes a punctive verb-form. Here,

'The river, which is afflicted with black lobsters, is losing its fish'


'The river, which is afflicted with black lobsters, will soon lose all its fish' is needed. –

  • Could I ask why you added the commas around "which is afflicted with black lobsters?" Your addition makes sense if there is only one river being discussed. But, the which-phrase might have been used to distinguish the lobster afflicted river from a different river that is not lobster afflicted, in which case the lack of commas is necessary. – katatahito Jun 14 at 8:37
  • I made a judgement call; the non-defining relative clause seemed more likely. Ignore the commas if you think the black lobster problem isn't as widespread as I've heard it is, or if you assume a more specifically defined subset of rivers than we're told about. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 14 at 8:45
  • The original sentence is just possible if there is a plan to drain the river of its fish and that plan will be implemented soon. And I agree that the version with commas is much more likely. It would be helpful if the OP could provide a link so that we can see the context. – Shoe Jun 14 at 8:46
  • @Shoe: Originally, the sentence is taken from an exercise book for high school students. No context. – Mido Mido Jun 14 at 11:38
  • For those, like myself, who went searching for the meaning of "punctive" See Lawrence and Edwin's comments. – Mari-Lou A Jun 14 at 16:32

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