I ran into this particular sentence today:

They shouldn't work more than they are now.

Though, I'd expect this sentence to be expressed as:

They shouldn't work more than they work now.


They shouldn't be working more than they are now.

Is my conception of English wrong on that particular point or is the former sentence incorrect?

closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, MetaEd, tchrist, kiamlaluno, StoneyB Sep 16 '12 at 16:59

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    General Reference. The simplest change needed to make the first sentence valid is They shouldn't work more than they do now. – FumbleFingers Sep 14 '12 at 13:46
  • Oh right, your form is definitely better than my first edit proposal :) Do you have any formal backup so that I can better argue my point? Thanks! – Mog Sep 14 '12 at 13:50
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    You starting sentence is invalid, as you presumably realise. But there's nothing "wrong" with your suggested alternatives, and my version isn't "better" than either - it's just the smallest change needed to fix the original. – FumbleFingers Sep 14 '12 at 14:13
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    Although the the first form is not valid grammatically (work is something you do, not something you are), it does show up in hasty speech sometimes, where I would interpret it as a present progressive: "They shouldn't work more than they are [working] now." – Cameron Sep 14 '12 at 15:03
  • @downvoter: please provide comments about why you think this question is bad so that I can improve it – Mog Sep 14 '12 at 15:19

A problem with that first sentence is that are does not belong with that form of work. Substitute do and that sentence becomes acceptable: “They shouldn’t work more than they do now.’

  • This answer doesn't add much to FumbleFingers comment, so I'd rather have him post it if there's no further point to be made. – Mog Sep 15 '12 at 15:49
  • That's fine. My thought was that testing the secondary verb (are) with "work" is a quick way to flush out what made the sentence seem awkward. – Kristina Lopez Sep 15 '12 at 16:35

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