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A colleague has written:

If you are encountering any more problems please don't hesitate to reach out.

Reading this, I believe it should phrased:

"If you encounter any more problems..."

but I cannot describe why - the language tools I have tested say the original is "clunky" or have no complaints.

A) Is the original technically incorrect?
B) If so, why?

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  • 1
    Version A is perfectly standard in some parts of the world. Where did your colleague learn his English?
    – Andrew Leach
    Jun 30, 2023 at 16:17
  • If you encounter any more problems means call me at the first or second. Encountering must mean more than one, probably more than two. In practice, these both form gracious closing email sentences without great substance! With euphemism stripped away, they say don't bother me again unless you gotta. Jun 30, 2023 at 16:34
  • 1
    It sounds like Indian English. Jun 30, 2023 at 19:00

2 Answers 2

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The basic literal meaning of to encounter is to meet up with unexpectedly. That unexpectedly coming to face someone (or something) occurs the very instant it happens, and so in that sense "to encounter" doesn't really go well with the continuous.

This is certainly unidiomatic in American English:

On the way here, I was encountering a detour.

Now, let's say you want to describe a situation where multiple drivers over a period of several hours encounter a fallen tree. In that scenario you could use the continuous because you're referring to what is happening over a span of time, not in an instant:

Motorists on Route 9 are encountering a fallen tree.

And you could use the continuous if you wanted to stress the fact that you're trying multiple different approaches but they all hit the same obstacle:

I am trying to remove a stain from the upholstery but am encountering the same problem: every cleaning product I find contains at least one known carcinogen.

But absent such a context the continuous can sound "off" with "encounter".

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I don't see a problem with A. And B is correct too. It's just that the focus is different. A focuses on an ongoing action very close to the moment of speech, whereas B includes a longer span of time and can be interpreted as a simple future.

I imagine A being said in an environment where a task is being carried out, and immediate assistance is offered in case of need.

I understand B said in an identical situation as A, but it is not limited to it. It is also possible when someone carries out a task in an unspecified time and until that task comes to an end, assistance is offered in the future.

This site states:

In the condition clause we can use present continuous:

  • If I’m driving, I don’t talk on my phone.

A language blog says:

Imperatives with the zero conditional

We often use the zero conditional to tell people what to do, or to give instructions. To do this, we use the structure: If / When + present tense, imperative

  • When the water is boiling, add the pasta.

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