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?

  • 5
    General Reference. The simplest change needed to make the first sentence valid is They shouldn't work more than they do now. Sep 14, 2012 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, 2012 at 13:50
  • 2
    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. Sep 14, 2012 at 14:13
  • 3
    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, 2012 at 15:03
  • @downvoter: please provide comments about why you think this question is bad so that I can improve it
    – Mog
    Sep 14, 2012 at 15:19

1 Answer 1


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, 2012 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. Sep 15, 2012 at 16:35

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