CONTINUOUS VERBAL PARTS
A THE EVENT IS IN EXISTENCE DURING A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME
B THE EVENT ITSELF INDICATES A PERIOD OF TIME
AN EVENT IS IN EXISTENCE
WHEN THE SPEAKER HAPPENS TO LOOK AT IT
D THE SPEAKER REFERS TO THE MIDDLE OF AN EVENT
E THE SPEAKER GIVES SPECIAL PROMINENCE TO AN EVENT
THE SPEAKER IMAGINES HIMSELF IN THE SITUATION
WHERE THE EVENT HAPPENS
SIMPLE VERBAL PARTS
VERBS WHICH ARE RARELY USED WITH CONTINUOUS
Continuous forms are verbal part .................
forms that contain the element : BE ING-FORM :
Verbal part forms which do not
contain 'continuous' are
non-continuous forms or simple
The tables list the continuous
and the non-continuous groups of
verbal part forms.
Table I contains the finite
verbal part forms, i.e. those
that are found in finite sen-
: NON-CONTINUOUS : CONTINUOUS FORMS :
: or SIMPLE FORMS : :
:write/writes :is/am/are writing :
:wrote :was/were writing :
:has/have written :has/have been writing :
:had written :had been writing :
:is/am/are written :is/am/are being written :
:was/were written :was/were being written :
:has/have been written :has/have been being written :
:had been written :had been being written :
:do/does : write :do/does : be writing :
:did : :did : :
:will : have written :will : have been writing :
:would : :would : :
:can : be written :can : be being written :
:could : :could : :
:may : have been written :may : have been being written :
:might : :might : :
:must : :must : :
:shall : :shall : :
:should : :should : :
:need : :need : :
:dare : :dare : :
:ought : to write :ought : to be writing :
:used : to have written :used : to have been writing :
: : to be written : : to be being written :
: : to have been written: : to have been being written:
TABLE I: Finite continuous forms
Table II shows the non-finite
verbal forms, i.e. those that we
find in non-finite sentences.
: NON-CONTINUOUS : CONTINUOUS FORMS :
: or SIMPLE FORMS : :
:writing :- :
:being written :- :
:having written :having been writing :
:having been written :having been being written :
:to write :to be writing :
:to have written :to have been writing :
:to be written :to be being written :
:to have been written :to have been being written :
:write :be writing :
:have written :have been writing :
:be written :be being written :
:have been written :have been being written :
:written :- :
TABLE II: Non-finite continuous forms
| action/state as a whole |
'Continuous' consists of | being in existence |
(a) an ing-form, which is used ---------------------------
to refer to an action or |
state as a whole |
(b) 'be', which refers to the |
idea of existence. .................
: BE ING-FORM :
From the meaning of its elements :...............:
the meaning of 'continuous' can
The speaker uses continuous ...........................
to state the fact that (usually : E V E N T :
during a certain period of time :.........................:
(an action or state is in <------------------------->
existence and that this action or
state is referred to as a whole.
Table III shows which of the
innumerable usages of continuous
verbal parts will be illustrated below.
: A AN EVENT IS IN EXISTENCE DURING A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME :
: A1 A period of time is specified :
: A2 The event happens at the same time as another one :
: A3 The event is of limited duration :
: B THE EVENT ITSELF INDICATES A PERIOD OF TIME :
: B1 The event indicates a temporal frame :
: B2 The event happens in the background :
: C AN EVENT IS IN EXISTENCE :
: WHEN THE SPEAKER HAPPENS TO LOOK AT IT :
: C1 The speaker indicates what happens during a period of time :
: C2 The speaker brings an event to the foreground :
: C3 The speaker begins the description of an event :
: in the middle of it :
: C4 The narrator of a story jumps forward into a new situation :
: C5 The speaker describes a picture :
: C6 The speaker indicates what happens regularly :
: during a period of time :
: D THE SPEAKER REFERS TO THE MIDDLE OF AN EVENT :
: D1 The event has begun but has not finished :
: D2 The event has already begun :
: D3 The event has begun, is interrupted, and will be continued :
: D4 The event has not finished yet :
: D5 The event is not likely to finish soon :
: D6 The event is in the process of developing :
: E THE SPEAKER GIVES SPECIAL PROMINENCE TO AN EVENT :
: E1 The event is especially important :
: E2 The speaker is emotionally involved :
: E3 The speaker is polite :
: E4 The speaker is modest :
: E5 The event is contrasted with another event :
: E6 The event comes to a sudden, unexpected end :
: F THE SPEAKER IMAGINES HIMSELF IN THE SITUATION :
: WHERE THE EVENT HAPPENS :
TABLE III: Usages of continuous verbal parts
The speaker uses continuous ...........................
when he wants to say of an action : E V E N T :
or a state that it is in exist- :.........................:
ence during a certain period of
... ----: PERIOD OF TIME :-->
:N: This period may be of any ...........................
:.: length, it may be millions
of years long or it may be a
point of time only.
USAGE A1 (a) [The BBC- commentator:]
The speaker uses continuous At the moment NASA are not talking
to emphasize that an action hap- at all, it's absolutely quiet,
pens during a certain specified you're not missing anything what-
period of time. soever.
As the examples illustrate this
period may belong to the present (b) Shepard is now joining Mitchell
or the future or the past. at the lunar module, having set up
the camera away from the lunar mod-
In (a) this period is the moment ule to show us their activities.
of speaking and listening, (Apollo 5.2.71, 165)
in (b) it is the moment of speak-
ing and watching. (c) [On the astronauts, who have
left the surface of the moon and
In (c) at that time refers to a will soon reach the spaceship,
period in the future. which is orbiting around the moon.]
They have been told to have their
life lines ready in case they have
to do a space walk between the two
ships. Now this would not be an
easy thing to do. I remember that
they haven't got a line to pull
onto the other ship. It's not like
a normal space walk. They got to
get a line between the two and then
pull themselves in. Well, now this
should take place, this docking, at
just after half past nine. We'll be
with you, of course, to tell you
exactly what is going on at that
(Apollo 6-2-71, 299)
In (d) the speaker refers to that (d) You see, sir, all this week
part of the week which is already I've been helping in the library
past at the moment of speaking. and I haven't been able to get all
his lordship's report typed out.
In (e) from time to time refers (e) Well, this is all for the mo-
to a series of time periods in ment, we will be updating you from
the future. time to time, and, of course, we
will be back live for the lunar
walk at three o'clock.
USAGE A2 (a) [John and Kate are going to a
party, when the car breaks down.
The speaker uses continuous John wants to go back home, Kate
to emphasize that an action or wants to go on. They argue. Finally
state happens at the same time as Kate goes on alone. In the park she
another one. is killed.]
With this usage we often find One of the detectives flashed a
adverbials like at the same time, badge. "Mr John Breton?"
simultaneously as well as
while-clauses and as-clauses. Breton nodded, unable to speak. I'm
sorry, Kate, he thought, so sorry -
come back and we'll go to the par-
ty. But at the same time an incred-
ible thing was happening. He could
feel a sense of relief growing in
one deeply hidden corner in his
mind. If she's dead, she's dead ...
If she's dead, it's all over. If
she's dead, I'm free ...
(Shaw, Two-timers, 15)
(b) We're not hearing anything at
this stage between the astronauts
and Houston, they're just sitting
tight while the clock counts down
steadily towards the lift-off mo-
(c) [There has been an earthquake
in California. A big reservoir has
been cracked by the earthquake.]
And they're trying to lower the
water - the threat of a burst is
going down as they're getting the
water lowered, but all the area
below has been evacuated.
(d) In its second minute the Hate
In (d) the actions of leaping, rose to a frenzy. People were leap-
opening, shutting, sitting are ing up and down in their places and
all happening simultaneously. shouting at the tops of their voic-
es in an effort to drown the mad-
dening bleating voice that came
from the screen. The little sandy-
haired woman had turned bright
pink, and her mouth was opening and
shutting like that of a landed
fish. He was sitting very straight
in his chair, his powerful chest
swelling and quivering as though he
were standing up to the assault of
(Orwell, 1984, 15)
USAGE A3 (a) It was hard to realize that
nine months ago she had never even
The speaker uses continuous heard of him. She had met him at a
to emphasize that an action (or small place by the seaside where
state) does not take place all she was spending a month's holiday
the time, but that it happens with her mother. Doris was a secre-
only during a certain period of tary to a member of parliament,
time, not before and not after, Guy was home on leave. They were
i.e. the speaker may use continu- staying at the same hotel, and he
ous forms to say that an action quickly told her all about himself.
is of limited duration only. (Maugham, Circumstances, 130)
The period of time in which the (b) When the car was gliding out of
action takes place is not always the airport, the man turned and
explicitly stated. said politely over his shoulder in
excellent English, "Kerim Bey
thought you would prefer to rest
tonight. I am to call for you at
nine tomorrow morning. What hotel
are you staying at, sir?"
(70/71 TR 4b, E8)
The speaker uses continuous : PERIOD OF TIME :
to indicate a period of time, ...........................
during which other actions or : E V E N T :
states are in existence. :.........................:
: PERIOD OF TIME :
USAGE B1 (a) [Is John the real John?]
The speaker uses continuous It was while we were drying off in
when he wants to emphasize that the sunshine that the odd thing
an action takes place while an- struck me. Back at school we had
other, longer, action or state is often stripped our shirts off after
in existence, i.e. when he wants football. I knew perfectly well
to indicate a temporal frame John had a strawberry birthmark,
within which another action about the size of a half-crown, in
happens. the small of his back. There was
now no trace of it.
With this usage the continuous (Hoyle, October, 23)
form is often contained in while-
clauses, as-clauses and similar (b) I have fallen into a bad habit.
expressions. I eat my dinner while I'm watching
(c) By some fluke, the title of
this novel seems to have passed
into circulation during the time
the book itself was being written.
(Snow, Corridors, 7)
(d) I asked for half a pint of bit-
ter. I was sipping it, making po-
lite conversation, when John re-
(Hoyle, October, 25)
USAGE B2 [Stage directions from a play.]
The speaker uses continuous MCCANN is sitting at the table
to emphasize that an action (or tearing a sheet of newspaper into
state) happens in the background, five equal strips. After a few mo-
indicating the time during which ments STANLEY enters from the left.
various other things are going on He stops upon seeing MCCANN, and
in the foreground. watches him. He then walks towards
the kitchen, stops and speaks.
(Pinter, Birthday, 37)
The speaker uses continuous
to refer to actions or states ...........................
which have started before a cer- : E V E N T :
tain point or period of time, and :.........................:
which will finish after this ...................
point or period of time, i.e. -----: PERIOD OF TIME :--->
which are in the middle of their ...................
existence when the speaker hap-
pens to look at them.
USAGE C1 (a) There's some quite interesting
action going on at the moment,
The speaker uses continuous Arthur; we can see, in fact, the
when he wants to say what is very first colour television trans-
happening at a certain period or mission from the moon shows us what
point of time. is going on, direct from Apollo 14
(BFBS 5.2.71, 155)
(b) Here we're waiting for the as-
tronauts to do what they promised
to do, and that is to get up to the
edge at that very interesting-
looking Cone Crater and look down
250 feet to the bottom, to the mid-
dle of this crater. At the moment
they're just continuing with their
(BFBS 6.2.71, 210)
(c) If you want to know about that,
young man, I'd advise you to look
up Gregory Powell. He and Michael
Donovan handled our most difficult
cases in the tens and twenties. I
haven't heard from Donovan in
years, but Powell is living right
here in New York. He's a grand-
father now (...).
(Asimov, I, robot, 32)
(d) "Molly," she said, "I have
something very serious to say to
you. This morning I saw you looking
over the hedge that divides Animal
Farm from Foxwood. One of Mr Pilk-
ington's men was standing on the
other side of the hedge. And I was
a long way away, but I am almost
certain I saw this - he was talking
to you and you were allowing him to
stroke your nose. What does that
(Orwell, Animal, 41)
USAGE C2 [Ku-damm, Berlin]
The speaker uses continuous Knots of pedestrians paraded at the
when, at a certain point or traffic crossings and at the given
period of time, he wants to bring signal marched obediently forward.
an action to the foreground. Young men in dark woollen shirts
parked and played jazz on their car
Continuous with this usage radios and waited patiently while
has the same effect as a spot- their white-haired girl friends
light on a stage, or a television adjusted their make-up and decided
camera moving closer: a certain which club they would like to go to
small part of a situation is next.
singled out and so brought to the
special attention of the reader Two men were eating Shashlik at a
(or hearer). corner kiosk and listening to a
football match over a transistor
In the example the author singles radio. I crossed half of the wide
out the two men and what they are street; down the centre of it,
doing, because shortly afterwards brightly coloured cars were parked
in the story the two become in a vast row that reached as far
important: they attack the narra- as the Grunewald. High above I
tor. The text goes on: "I heard could see the lights of the Maison
footsteps behind. It was one of de France restaurant.
the men from the kiosk." (Deighton, Funeral, 90)
USAGE C3 (a) [Billy travels in time.]
A storyteller may use continuous He closed his eyes and opened them
when in the description of again. He was still weeping, but he
a situation he begins right in was back in Luxembourg again. He
the middle of it and he wants to was marching with a lot of other
show which actions or states are prisoners. It was the winter wind
underway at this moment. that was bringing tears to his
In novels we find this often at (Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse,48)
the beginning of a new chapter.
(b) She was sitting on the verandah
waiting for her husband to come in
(Maugham, Circumstance, 129)
(c) Colonel Charles Russell was
sitting in his shabbily comfortable
room in the Security Executive. He
was reading The Age (...).
(Haggard, Powder, 12)
(d) In a room in the Foreign Office
a good deal grander than Kenneth
Gibbs', Kenneth Gibbs was being
discussed. The room belonged to Sir
Godfrey Henn, and he was talking to
(e) I played the Opus 111. There
wasn't a great deal of applause at
the end, but the warmth was obvi-
ous. They spoke now in quiet voic-
es, not at all like the uproar that
had been going on when John and I
came in earlier.
USAGE C4 (a) Dixon had resolved to travel to
the Welches' by bus to avoid
A storyteller may use continuous Johns's company, so he now got up,
to show that the story has thinking he ought to impart some
made a jump forward into a new specific warning to Atkinson. Un-
situation. This jump may be very able to fix on anything, however,
long or quite short (b,c). he left the room. Behind him he
heard Atkinson speaking to Johns
With this usage we often find again: "Sit down and tell me about
adverbials like a few minutes your oboe."
later, in a second, soon, etc.
A few minutes later Dixon, carrying
a small suitcase, was hurrying
through the streets to his bus
(Amis, Jim, 35)
(b) [Little William has snatched a
five-pound note from Arthur.]
He feverishly rattled the back-door
latch, and in a second was running
up the yard before anyone could
stop him, gripping the five-pound
(Sillitoe, Saturday, 55)
(c) It began to grow chilly as the
Sun fell lower in the west. We de-
cided to eat a meal before taking
off. After a short argument it was
decided to have it out of doors.
The food was handed down the ladder
by the crew. Soon we were munching
sandwiches and drinking hot coffee.
We took a last walk around the
plane. A quarter of an hour later
we were back in the air. Turned
towards the Sun we were on our
(Hoyle, October, 87)
(d) [The little boy helps the great
Only once did he stop me. That was
when I reached for his saddle-roll
to put it to one side. In the in-
stant my fingers touched it, he
was taking it from me and he put it
on a shelf with a finality that
indicated no inference.
(Schaeffer, Shane, 5)
USAGE C5 (a) Two happy children are playing
by the sea. Their names are Mary
Pictures, photographs, etc. and Peter. Their mother and father
'freeze' a situation at a certain are asleep in their deck-chairs
instant of time. Actions shown in some distance away enjoying the
pictures have begun before this summer sun. The children know they
instant and will end after it, must not bathe yet, so they are
they are therefore usually re- working hard on the sand with their
ferred to by continuous verbal spades building a wall with steep
parts. sloping sides.
(Eckersley, Pupil's workbook, 4f)
Passage (a) describes a picture
showing a scene at the seaside.
(b) In the picture on the next page
Passages (b) and (c) describe a you can see a stout gentleman ope-
(the same) picture in a history rating an early printing press of
book. the sixteenth century. Back of him
you can see someone inking the
block letters which are set in a
frame. The printed paper is hanging
up to dry like laundry on a line.
(c) Early printers. Each man seated
is picking single letters out of a
box of sorted letters and lining
them up to make the words and sen-
tences written on the paper above
him. When he has set enough letters
to fill the page, the letters are
inked. Then the page is printed in
the press. (Caption)
(Cordier/Robert History of
World Peoples, 77f)
USAGE C6 (a) Winston made for the stairs. It
was no use trying the lift. Even at
The speaker uses continuous the best of times it was seldom
when he wants to say that an working, and at present the elec-
action or state is in existence tric current was cut off during
during more than one point or daylight hours.
period of time. (Orwell, 1984,5)
With this usage the continuous (b) "What's happened to the Düssel-
verbal parts are always accompanied dorf flight?" (...) She smiled and
by adverbials of frequency. shrugged her shoulders.
"I expect it is the snow. We are
Often the speaker uses continuous often having delays in autumn."
verbal parts in this way when he is (Le CarrŠ, Looking-glass, 11)
emotionally involved, especially
when also using always (see com- (c) "Suppose someone tries to stop
ments below). you?"
"No one does, if I have a pass."
"Not even the stewardesses?"
"They're just young girls, my dear.
Usually they're talking to each
other, or are interested in the
men. All they look at is the flight
number, and I always get that
(Hailey, Airport, 168)
In (d) the speaker is annoyed. (d) Someone from the Meteorological
Office should discover why it is
that every time I fly into London
airport it is raining.
(Deighton, Funeral, 163)
(e) Gillian Blake had paid the Ace-
High people six-hundred and
seventy-five dollars (...) to learn
that Williams (...) had been leav-
ing his office every afternoon at
2:45, taking a taxicab to the
north-east corner of Seventh Avenue
and 23rd Street, walking a half
block south, climbing two flights
of stairs and entering the apart-
ment rented by Phyllis Sammis (...)
(Ashe, Naked, 9)
(f) [The woman wants to get at some
information. She is sure she will
find it in Ambassador Romero's
It would be a private letter proba-
bly, or perhaps a note of some tel-
ephone conversation between brother
and brother. They were always tele-
phoning, and the ambassador was
always making notes. There was a
fair chance that what she wanted
(Haggard, Closed, 34)
(g) [From a science fiction story
which takes place on the moon.]
Needless to say, the American igloo
was the biggest one, and had come
complete with everything, including
the kitchen sink - not to mention a
washing machine, which we and the
Russians were always borrowing.
(Clarke, Time, 124f)
(h) [Miss Lucy recommends yoghurt
In (h) the speaker expresses her to Rosamond and Jenny.]
"I dare say I might become slimmer,
but if you feel well you feel well,
and what do a few pounds matter
when all is said and done."
"But Rosamond and I don't want to
lose any pounds. We're always being
told we ought to put them on."
(Wentworth, Vanishing, 65)
(i) [Bond pretends that if he mar-
In (i) the speaker expresses a ried at all, he would marry an air
feeling of pleasure. hostess. Why?]
"Oh, I don't know. I would be fine
to have a pretty girl always tuck-
ing you up and bringing you drinks
and hot meals and asking if you had
everything you wanted. And they're
always smiling and wanting to
(Fleming, Eyes, 67)
(j) [Esther is asked to stop knit-
In (j) the speaker is angry with ting.]
herself, in (k) with other
people. "I've dropped a stitch, dear. You
see, that is why I have to get on -
I'm always dropping stitches. I
can't think why they won't stay on
the needle. Other people seem to
manage it, but I've never been able
(Wentworth, Past, 17)
(k) Somebody's always leaving these
doors open,", growled Colin.
(Carr, Suicide, 55)
(l) A written form of English,
based on the Latin alphabet, has
existed for more than 1,000 years
and, though the pronunciation has
been constantly changing during
this time, few basic changes of
spelling have been made since the
(m) Change is continually taking
(Hall, FL, 1965, 341)
The speaker uses continuous ...........: :...........
to refer to the middle of an : E V E N T :
action or state. :..........: :..........:
USAGE D1 (a)[The Apollo 14 spaceship is com-
ing back to earth.]
The speaker uses continuous
to refer to the middle of an And that's what's happening now. In
action when he wants to say that a moment it's all going to be over,
an action has begun but is not we're now waiting for the space-
finished at a certain point of craft to drop down. So let's pick
time. up the voice, the voice of the
American commentator which is
In (a) this point of time (now = aboard the recovery ship, the 'New
the moment of speaking) is Orleans'. As everybody now is
stated, watching the splashdown of Apollo
in (b) it is not. But the situa- 14.
tion makes it clear to the hearer
what point of time the speaker is (...) The crew on board the Apollo
thinking of (again the moment of 14 command module reports everyone
speaking). in fine condition. Shepard, Roosa
and Mitchell now are waiting for
the splashdown of the Apollo 14
command module which should come in
just a few moments now.
(b) One of the astronauts mentioned
that in the valley they're walking
through the angle of the sun is
making it difficult for them to
USAGE D2 (a) The doctor is Roger Short, the
director of the Medical Research
The speaker uses continuous Council's unit working on reproduc-
to refer to the middle of an tive biology. And he told reporters
action or state when he wants to about the technique, which is al-
say that it has already begun. ready being tested on three women
in India and, more cautiously, on
We often find the adverb 'already' marmoset monkeys in his own labora-
with this usage. tory.
(BBC World Service, 2.5.75, 16.15)
(b) He was ten minutes early, and
saw himself waiting a long time for
Brenda, but she was already stand-
ing in the shadow of the public
(Sillitoe, Saturday 57)
USAGE D3 (a) You've heard of Eddie Cantor,
the singer ...?
The speaker uses continuous - Yes.
to refer to the middle of an Yeah, he died, but ... I'm reading
action or state that is inter- his autobiography - it's supposed
rupted at a certain point of to be very good.
time, when he wants to emphasize (Child lg, 68)
that it nevertheless has begun
and will be continued at a later (b) Tell me, have you b ... bought
time. any new clothes recently? (...)
In (a) the speaker is clearly not Well, I have. I'm knitting myself a
reading at the moment of jumper, though.
speaking, nor is the speaker in (Child language, 65)
(b) knitting - if she were she
would not need to mention it. (c) "Mrs Maple's well is being in-
vestigated by the police?"
In (c) the speaker wants to know (Wentworth, Vanishing, 103)
whether the investigation has at
all begun and if so will be (d) She stopped making her lists
continued later. because she suspected they were not
even being read.
In (d) Gloria suspects that the (Ashe, Naked, 51)
action of reading her lists is
not even begun, let alone contin-
ued and finished.
USAGE D4 (a) Jack's head was turned and she
bent over to kiss Arthur. He held
The speaker uses continuous her firmly by the neck and was
to refer to the middle of an still kissing her when Jack lifted
action or state when he wants to his head and looked wonderingly at
say that it has not yet finished. them.
(Sillitoe, Saturday, 16)
We often find the adverb still
with this usage. (b) I poured two or three double
whiskies into the back of my
throat, watched the floor and tried
to forget what a crummy trick I had
pulled on Hallam. It was still
raining outside. The doorman and I
looked around for a taxi.
(Deighton, Funeral, 59)
(c) [Sonia is singer, who has had to give up her career.]
So many things had changed for her.
Her voice had lost the indefinable
quality that had made it her voice,
that fragile, crystalline ache of
unbridled feeling, the hidden god
who had spoken through her—all that
was gone now, and she knew it, but
giving up her career had been a
difficult blow, andshe was still coming
to terms with it.
(Auster, Man in the dark, 162)
USAGE D5 (a) The subway lines have paid and
are paying to this day more than
The speaker uses continuous 6%.
to refer to the middle of an (Korsakov, 1969, 110, Dreiser)
action or state when he wants to
say that it is not likely to (b) [The astronauts are on their
finish soon. second moon walk.]
With this usage we often find So far it's going very well, they
adverbials telling us for how clearly enjoyed coming downhill
long the action or state has from halfway up the side of Cone
already been taking place at a Crater instead of struggling up it,
certain point of time. Adverbials uphill, as they had been doing pre-
of this kind are 'so far' (b) or viously.
(rarely) since-phrases (c), (BFBS, 6.2.71, 228)
since-clauses, for-phrases (d).
(c) Esther Field sat on a cushion
... in the shade of the beach hut and
:N: With these adverbials perfect knitted diligently. Since this year
:.: verbal parts are much more usual. she was giving shawls for Christmas
presents to the three or four old
pensioners whom she had inherited
from Pender Field's mother (...).
(Wentworth, Past, 16f)
(d) "I need a maid: check?"
"Check," I said.
"For three weeks I'm trying to get
a local girl to help with work
around the apartment. It's not hard
work but can I get one? No, sir.
They tell me that no one does do-
mestic work any more. (...)"
(Deighton, Funeral 129)
USAGE D6 (a) Nonetheless I must challenge a
new myth that is rapidly being cre-
The speaker uses continuous ated.
to refer to the middle of an (Observer, 22.11.70)
action or state when he wants to
say that it has started and is in (b) The airlines are becoming in-
the process of developing. creasingly aware that their charges
must cover the costs of handling
We often find adverbials of (...), but that such costs must be
degree with this usage, like kept under control if they are to
increasingly, more, more and remain competitive with traditional
more. forms of surface transport.
(c) This mission is becoming known
as the better-late-than-never mis-
sion, after the delay of the launch
now this delay with the first lunar
walk. Let's listen to how they're
getting on on the ladder down from
the lunar module.
... .................... ... ...
The speaker uses continuous :E: : E V E N T : :E: :E:
when he wants to give special :.: :..................: :.: :.:
prominence to the existence of an
action or state, in order to draw
the hearer's attention to it.
USAGE E1 (a) "I warn you, F, I'm not going
to take your cowardly guru shit."
The speaker uses continuous "You are being loved, you are being
to draw the hearer's attention to invited into a great love, and I
the fact that an action is envy you."
especially important. (Cohen, Losers, 25)
(b) [Sutton does not believe in
time-travelling. He says so to Case
and Pringle, who have time-travel-
led back from the future.]
"You don't know?" asked Case. "Why,
it was a man in your own time. A
man who is living at this very mo-
"Case," said Pringle, "this is
7990. Michaelson really did very
little with it until 8003."
(Simak, Time, 118)
USAGE E2 (a) When her friends spoke of love,
of men they had loved, Ottilie be-
The speaker uses continuous came sulky. How do you feel if
when he himself finds an action you're in love? she asked. Ah, said
especially important. This is Rosita with swooning eyes, you feel
usually the case when he is as though pepper has been sprinkled
emotionally involved in what he on your heart, as though tiny fish
is discussing. are swimming in your veins.
(Capote, Flowers, 88)
In (a) Rosita is enthusiastic
about what she is describing, (b) I mean ... look - if I'm old
in (b) the speaker (a sixteen- enough to drive a car, surely I'm
year-old) is angry about what old enough to smoke!
happened to his cousin,
in (c) the writer wants to -Well, it's legal at sixteen ...
express the woman's anxiety.
I know it's legal at sixteen ...
and my cousin wasn't allowed to
smoke till he was twenty-one ... in
front of his parents. I mean it's
going a bit too far.
(Child Language, 65)
It was a high-pitched sound of a
woman who has been calling not
once, but several times; and had
the nervous tone of one in whom
anxiety was beginning to overcome
In (d) Margret feels extremely (d) [Helen and Margret, her sister,
embarrassed when the young man are attending a concert. Helen
tells her about the umbrella, leaves in the middle of the pro-
especially as she has only just gramme.]
"Excuse me," said Margret's young
This feeling of embarrassment she man, who had for some time been
expresses when she uses the con- preparing a sentence, "but that
tinuous form of the present lady has, quite inadvertently, tak-
perfect - perhaps she is even a en my umbrella."
little overdoing it in order to
impress the young man. "Oh, good gracious me! - I am so
sorry. (...)" (34)
Helen, on the other hand, not
quite understanding what Margret [Later Margret invites the young
is saying and therefore having no man:]
reason yet for being embarrassed,
merely uses the simple form. "We live quite near; I am going
there now. Could you walk round
... with me and we'll find your um-
:N: When Margret, a few seconds brella?" (36)
:.: later, refers to Helen's
action again, she explains a [It turns out that Margret has for-
fact, and therefore uses 'took'. gotten her key, so she taps at the
"Helen! Let us in!"
"All right," said a voice.
"You've been taking this gentle-
"Taken a what?" said Helen, opening
"Oh, what's that? Do come in! How
do you do?"
"Helen you must not be so ramshack-
ly. You took this gentleman's um-
brella away from Queen's Hall, and
he has had the trouble of coming
round for it."
"Oh, I am so sorry!" cried Helen
(Forster, Howard's End, 34-40)
USAGE E3 (a) "Want me to put in some Watson
The speaker uses continuous "If you aren't wanting to go to
to tell the hearer that by no bed." Watson work meant that Angela
means does he regard a certain tried to suggest new ideas to her
action or state as unimportant. husband under a mask of carefully
This has the effect of politeness assumed stupidity.
on the hearer. (Knox, Taps, 45)
In (a) the speaker wants to give (b) [Landlady to holiday guests:]
his partner the impression that
he regards his wishes as very Would you be using the single bed
(St Ives 1970)
In (b) the landlady wants to have
the spare bed for herself. When
she asks her guests whether they
need it at all, she is trying to
give the impression that she is
asking an enormous favour of
them. The effect of politeness is
emphasized even more by addition-
ally using 'will' and past (see
USAGE E4 (a) He listened carefully, said
thank you, and got through to the
The speaker uses continuous Chief Security Officer at Headquar-
to tell the hearer that an action ters.
or state has importance only for "Well, sir, I think it must be 007.
himself. This has the effect of Bit thinner than his photographs.
modesty on the part of the speak- I'll be giving you his prints as
er. soon as he's gone.
(Fleming, Gun, 17)
In (a) the speaker implies that
to be received by his supervisor (b) I was wondering if you were
(in order to hand over the photo- doing anything this evening. I
graphs) is regarded as a favour thought you might like to come over
by him. and have a meal with us.
(Amis, Jim, 175)
In (b) the effect of modesty is
emphasized even more by the
additional use of past.
USAGE E5 (a) [A conversation between a group
of sixteen-year-olds is to be put
The speaker uses continuous on tape. Suddenly they realize that
and so gives special prominence the tape recorder had been switched
to an action or state to express off.]
a contrast between this action or
state and another action or Say something.
- Oh, that's good, 'cos it's work-
In (a) and (b) the contrast is ing now. Oh, blimey.
between what is happening at the
moment of speaking (the tape The blooming thing wasn't on be-
recorder is working, the nails fore.
are growing) and what happened
before (the tape recorder was not - Oh, dear.
working, the nails were not (Child Language, 57)
(b) It [smoking] helps to relax me
and also, if I didn't smoke, I
don't know what else I'd do.
- I'd bite all my nails off! Yeah.
- I chew those off anyway.
Mine are growing nicely now.
- Yeah, they're nice, aren't they?
In (c) the contrast is between (c) [Mrs Lemon explains to the de-
what has happened and what norm- tective what has happened in the
ally happens in this hotel. students' hostel.]
"No, you see, things have been dis-
"Yes. And such odd things... And
all in rather an unnatural way."
"When you say things have been dis-
appearing you mean things have been
"Have the police been called in?"
(Christie, Hickory Dock, 8)
In (d) the contrast is between (d) He smiled at Rosemary and Guy.
what Hutch does and what Rosemary "I wish you two would look for a
would expect from their friend. good house instead of the Bram-
For a long time Rosemary and Guy ford," he said.
have been trying to find a flat,
now that they have found one at Rosemary's spoon of melon stopped
last, Hutch tries to talk them halfway to her mouth. "Are you hon-
out of it. This Rosemary cannot estly trying to talk us out of it?"
understand. she asked.
Levin, Rosemary's Baby, )
In (e) the contrast is between (e) [Julie is playing a tennis
where Julie is (and what she is match. She is not her normal self.]
automatically doing) and where
her thoughts are. It's as if she were playing inside
a glass tank, Lewis thought, sealed
against the world, sealed against all emotion - she is cold and set. Her successes she did not pause to observe; even a failure was marked by no word, no check, no sign. Her racquet swung, the ball flew. In her face was neither satisfaction nor impatience, only the composure of an accepted ordeal, a fierce ritual that was not a game. "Magni- ficent, Julie!" Ramsdell said, passing the end of the net as they changed over. She did not reply. She seemed not to be aware of him. She is playing without knowing that she is playing, Lewis said. (Morgan, Fountain, 168) USAGE E6 (a) [Sixteen-year-olds are discuss- ing a film.] The speaker uses continuous and so gives special prominence And they're all going along in, er to an action or state when this - ..., a very slow pace. Suddenly the unexpectedly - comes to a sudden bloke in front speeds up and they end. all quickly speed up, and in the end, they're suddenly for some rea- son or other, suddenly for some reason or another, suddenly it's a mad rush for the money (...). (Child Language, 59) (b) I mean, there's a man, erm ... erm, you know, say ... he's erm going out with a girl or something, and all of a sudden she leaves him to go with another man. I mean he might be so mad. (...) (Child Lg)
The speaker uses continuous : :
when in his imagination he is .....
putting himself in the situation .............:.............
where the action or state he is : E V E N T :
discussing is in existence. :............:............:
In (a) the speaker is trying to (a) Well, you know down the side
describe the location of the road - there's a club down there. I
club. He starts out using the don't know what it's called .. What
simple present get, then makes a is it?
pause, obviously visualizing the - Hm. It's ... not the 'North Twen-
situation of going to the club, ty'... is it?
then continues, now using the (...)
continuous present are getting. No, it's before you get ... before
you're getting up to the hill,
(Child Lg. 63)
In (b) Arthur is imagining the (b) [Arthur is staying away from
situation of drinking with Brenda work. These are his thoughts:]
from its beginning to its end to
find out if he drank too much. He could have laughed. From time to
time it was fine to feel unwell and
have a day off work to sit by the
fire reading and drinking tea,
waiting for them to get cracking
with something good on television.
He did not know why he felt ill.
Last night he was drinking with
Brenda at the Athletic Club, though
he hadn't put back enough to cause
an upset stomach. This made him
ask: Did I really feel bad this
morning? But his conscience was
untroubled, his wages would not
suffer, and he had always kept his
work at the factory at least one
day's supply ahead of those who
waited for it. So there was nothing
to worry about.
(Sillitoe, Saturday 39f)
Simple verbal parts (or non-continuous
verbal parts) are used when the speaker
has no reason for referring to an
action as a whole and its exist-
ence at a certain period or point
Here are examples illustrating
some typical situations.
USAGE A Marsh (...) turns, tries to go
round two men. He's defeated, and
The speaker uses simple verbal parts the ball breaks to Breitner, and
when he refers to actions which Breitner, this fullback, who loves
are already finished when he is to get involved in forward move-
speaking. ment, tries to get Held going. He
does, too, and Held is going very
This is often the case in sports fast indeed, Moore goes down, and
commentaries over the radio where it looks like a penalty against
the speaker is usually a little Bobby Moore.
behind with his commentary, i.e. (BFBS, 29.4.72)
where the actions he is dis-
cussing are usually finished when
he comes to name them.
When, however, an action is still
going on while he is naming it,
he normally uses continuous
(cf. continuous usage D1).
Usage B The wind hit the sail, the sail hit
Boon and he fell over the side of
The speaker uses simple verbal parts the boat into the sea!
when he refers to a series of
actions. Boon went under the waves. Then his
head came above the water. He saw
This is typically the case in that the wind and waves were push-
stories, where usually one action ing the boat away from him. The
is finished before the next one fisherman was tying the sail. He
begins. When, however, an action tried to shout, but a big wave fell
happens at the same time as an- on him. Some seawater went into his
other one, the speaker may use mouth and he went under the water
continuous verbal parts (cf. again.
continuous usage A2). (131-137)
Here the boat's moving away and
the fisherman's tying the sail
happen simultaneously with Boon's
seeing these actions:
: fell :
: went :
: came :
:saw were pushing was tying:
: fell :
Usage C G�nther Zahn himself now comes to
the bottom of the steps, the white
The speaker uses simple verbal parts concrete steps, over which is laid
when he regards a number of a yellow carpet, the other four
actions as being of equal impor- remain at the base as he now runs
tance, i.e. when he does not want up the steps, holding aloft this
to give one action special flame, which was lit in Olympia and
prominence. which was carried - been carried
over a long distance since the 28th
This is typically the case in the of July and arrived here in Munich
description of actions which are on the 26th of August. A fine fig-
part of a carefully planned ure he is, now a lone figure as he
ritual as in this commentary on goes up those yellow carpeted
the lighting of the Olympic flame steps, he's half - little over half
in Munich in 1972. way, the flame burns, and at the
top there awaits - the flame that
When, however, an action happens will be lit and will remain lit for
which is not part of the ritual, the whole of the Games.
which has not been planned, the
speaker is likely to use a con- G�nther Zahn from Obernzell near
tinuous form to draw the hearer's Passau, 18-year-old, he will never
attention to it, as the commenta- forget this, he now reaches the
tor does here (cf. continuous top, and behind there is the tower,
usage E1). he passes the tower, he raises his
hand, he turns, he slowly lowers
the flame, the gas jets are there
to receive it, there's a slight
breeze, he's having a little diffi-
culty, and now it burns. And
G�nther, G�nther Zahn stands there
very proudly, the flame is lit, and
we await the taking of the Olympic
Usage D [About the author Roald Dahl.]
The speaker uses simple verbal parts He lives in Buckinghamshire and is
when he refers to actions or married to the actress, Patricia
states that have begun at a cer- Neal. They have a daughter and a
tain point of time, but whose end son.
is not in sight, i.e. of which he (Dahl, Kiss Kiss, 1)
cannot or does not want to say
that they are of limited duration
(cf continuous usage D3).
There are a number of verbs which
are rarely used with continuous.
There are various reasons for
Three groups of verbs may be
VERB GROUP A (a) His Auntie knows candles aren't
verbs referring to cognition (Williams, Streetcar, 196)
like think, believe, suppose,
mean, know, (b) But I think the Queen should
have the power to over-ride Parlia-
verbs referring to likes and dis- ment. (...) if she thinks it right.
likes, e.g. like, love, care, - Hm, I think so too.
hate, prefer, (Child Language 64)
verbs expressing possession like (c) The so-called 'abolition of
have, possess, own, belong (to), private property' which took place
consist (of), in the middle years of the century
meant, in effect, the concentration
verbs expressing existence like of property in far fewer hands than
be, exist, remain, resemble. before, but with this difference
that the new owners were a group
These verbs refer to actions instead of a mass of individuals.
which are not normally limited in Individually, no member of the Par-
their duration, i.e. they have a ty owns anything, except petty per-
beginning, but their end is not sonal belongings. Collectively, the
in sight (cf. simple usage D). Party owns everything in Oceania,
because it controls everything
In (a) Auntie's knowledge will (...)
probably last as long as she (Orwell, 1984, 165)
lives, the state of candles being
unsafe will last as long as there
In (c) the state of owning noth-
ing (the individual) or every-
thing (the Party) started in the
middle of the century, no end to
this state is in sight.
VERB GROUP B (a) As she came nearer he saw that
her right arm was in a sling, not
verbs referring to perceptions noticeable at a distance because it
like see, hear, feel, smell, was of the same colour as her over-
(Orwell, 1984, 87)
the verb matter,
(b) " (...) The original idea was
the verbs contain, cost, depend that he should introduce me to this
(on). man Datt and say I was an American
scientist with a conscience."
These verbs refer to actions or
states of which it is normally "That's a piece of CIA thinking if
obvious that they happen during a I ever heard one."
certain period of time only and
therefore that they are of "You think it's an extinct
limited duration. species?"
When this is the case it is not "It doesn't matter what I think,
necessary to use continuous but it's not a line that Datt will
to emphasize the idea of limited buy easily."
duration (cf. continuous usage (Deighton, Die, 138)
In (a) Winston sees that the
girl's arm is in a sling. Before,
when she was at a distance, he
did not see it, after she has
gone, he does not see it any
more. The action of seeing lasts
only for a short, limited period
In (b) the statement that
something does not matter is true
as long as the speaker may be
having certain thoughts - this is
only the case for a limited
VERB GROUP C (a) "Eat your cereal, Peter," she
said. "I can't. My stomach hurts."
verbs referring to bodily Updike, zit. Korsakov, 62)
sensations like hurt, ache, itch,
feel, (b) [On the Apollo 14 mission for
the first time the astronauts have
verbs referring to cognition like a vehicle with them.]
think, believe, suppose, mean,
understand, wonder, hope, And with this they hope to be able
imagine, remember, forget, to collect much more material than
they've been able to in the past,
verbs referring to wishes like they're particularly interested in
want, wish, desire, this material, as I said, because
this is probably the oldest mate-
verbs expressing existence like rial on the moon.
be, seem, look, feel, smell, (BBC 5.2.71,98)
(c) They look, the astronauts look
These verbs refer to actions or very white indeed in their shining
states of which it is normally bright suits in this powerful sun-
obvious that they have begun light falling on them.
before a certain point of time (Apollo 156)
and that they will finish later,
i.e. that the middle of an action
or state is referred to.
When this is the case it is again
not necessary to use continuous
forms to emphasize this idea (cf.
continuous usage D1).
In (a) Peter refers to a
sensation in his stomach. The
pain is in the middle of its
In (b) the BBC commentator
reports the astronauts' hope,
which is still in the middle of
its existence but will finish as
soon as the astronauts have
fulfilled their task and are back
in their spacecraft.
In (c) the BBC commentator
describes what he sees on his
television screen. The astronauts
have been looking white since
they got on to the surface of the
moon, and they will stop looking
white when they are back in their
lunar module. At the moment of
speaking this whiteness is in the
middle of its existence.
Although the above verbs are
mostly used in simple verbal parts,
there are cases where the speaker
uses them in continuous verbal parts
because he wants to express a
Here are some examples.
Examples (a) I didn't mean to hit you, it
with continuous usage A1 nearly killed me to do it. But I
was so terribly frightened at what
Verbs like love, like, know (verb you'd do when you found out.
group A) refer to actions which
are not normally limited in their Forgive me for having to lie to you
duration. about so many things. But please
believe this: When we were together
In these examples the statements in the darkness, close to each oth-
refer to a certain specified er, I wasn't spying on you. I was
period of time. loving you."
(Matheson, Omega, 156)
(b) [Chancy has time-travelled to
"What did you think of 1980, mis-
"I don't like it, and I'll be lik-
ing it even less when I'm living in
(Tucker, Sun, 106)
(c) [A Negro's thoughts:]
It was all over now. He had to save
himself. But it was familiar, this
running away. All his life he had
been knowing that sooner or later
something like this would come to
him. And now, here it was. He had
always felt outside this white
world, and now it was true.
(Wright, Native son, 207)
Example He mustn't offer any resistance. He with continuous usage A2 must make no attempt to frustrate any plans they might have. For A verb like remember (verb group years the Play Square had empha- C) refers to the middle of an sized that. No young person, it had action. stated categorically, should con- sider himself qualified to judge Here the speaker wants to say how dangerous any particular Yevd that the action takes place at might be. Or how important the plan the same time that another action of a Yevd spy ring. is happening, and he therefore uses a continuous form. Assume that something was being done. And await whispered instruc- tions. Diddy was remembering all these things, as he walked between the two Yevd, his short legs twinkling as he was hustled along faster than his normal pace. He was heartened by the fact that they had still not let him know their identity. They were still pretending. (Vogt, Universe, 125) Examples (a) "But really," said Miss Marple with continuous usage A3 to herself, "this is all pure con- jecture. I'm being stupid. I know The full verb be may refer to I'm being stupid. The truth must be states which are unlimited in quite plain, if one could just their duration, and also to clear away the litter. Too much states which last only for short litter, that's what's the matter." period of time. (Christie, Caribbean,136) When the speaker wants to make it (b) [Harry is playing at being To- quite clear that he is referring bias.] to a state which is limited in duration, he uses a continuous Will you make me a drink, Harry, form. since you are being Tobias? A Scotch? In (a) Miss Marple wants to (Albee, Delicate balance, 69) assure herself that the state of her being stupid will soon be finished. In (b) Agnes could not possibly say since you are Tobias, as Harry is Harry and only pretending to be another person - which is a state lasting only for a short period of time. Examples (a) What then is the experience of with continuous usage C6 children and what can be learnt from them? First, before they learn Verbs like see and hear (verb to speak, they are constantly being group B) normally refer to placed in everyday situations, or actions of limited duration. they are seeing other people in situations, and they are hearing In (a) the speaker wants to say speech which is clearly related to that there is never an end to the those situations. actions referred to. (Wilson, 1971, FLT, 8) A verb like want usually refers to the middle of a state. (b) She was quite handsome in those days, but never what you would call In (b) the speaker wants to attractive to men - too much in- emphasize (critically) that the clined to lay down the law, and girl was in the middle of wanting always wanting her own way, and of her own way whenever another per- course they don't like this, do son wanted something different. they (...)? (Wentworth, Vanishing, 52)
Examples (a) [Pepin has time-travelled to
with continuous usage D6 the distant future.]
Here the speaker uses continuous Pepin was afraid only of the ani-
forms to say that the actions mals, for these had become truly
referred to are in the process of alien. The principal life-form oth-
developing. er than man was the oozer - a giant
leech which normally prowled the
bleak sea shores but which was be-
ing seen increasingly further in-
land. If Man's time was ending,
then the time of the oozer was be-
ginning. As Man died out, the oozer
(Moorcock, Time, 33)
(b) Many educational publications
are containing an increasing amount
of statistical evidence which re-
quires a knowledge of statistics if
the articles are to be understood.
(Crocker, Statistics, )
Examples "She's the type who could never
with continuous usage E1 tell anything to the police. And
she said the card was being a com-
Here the speaker uses a continu- fort to Maggie's parents and she
ous form to tell the hearer that couldn't take it from them. They
the state referred to was very are dead now, but she only burst
important to Maggie's parents out about it in the shock of Miss
when they were still alive. Holiday's disappearance."
(Wentworth, Vanishing, 86)
Examples (a) [About the astronauts on the
with continuous usage E2 moon.]
When verbs which are mostly used And we've been watching them here
in simple verbal parts are found in throughout the day and seeing them,
continuous forms the reason is soun - seeing them looking tired,
often that the speaker is sounding tired at the end of their
emotionally or otherwise involved very strenuous moon walk, which was
in what he is discussing. almost two miles long, there and
back, wasn't it, Arthur?
In (a) the speaker shows that he (Apollo, 272)
is feeling with astronauts,
in (b) that he is overcome by the (b) "I am seeing Perris," he said.
beauty of the city. "I have never known such beauty.
Roum is attractive too, in a dif-
ferent way. Roum is an emperor;
Perris is a courtesan."
In (c) Hesper expresses her en- (c) [Vesper and Bond are discussing
thusiasm (which her partner feels business matters over dinner.]
is out of place),
in (d) we are told about Jule's "(...) How do you like the grated
negative feelings against Dr. egg with your caviar?"
in (e) we learn about Rosemary's "It's a wonderful combination," she
anger and frustration. said. "I'm loving my dinner. It
seems a shame ..." She stopped,
warned by a cold look in Bond's
"If it wasn't for the job, we
wouldn't be here," he said.
(Fleming, Casino, 65)
(d) Dr. Ambrosius, looking over
Jules's shoulder and grinning in an
explicable fashion, seized it [Ju-
les's hand] and shook it, as if
absent-mindedly, some ten or fif-
teen times. His breath, Jules no-
ticed, was strong and his grip
horny. He was not liking Dr. Ambro-
(Lewis, Strength, 217)
(e) [Rosemary is having her baby.
She has been given an injection.]
All the exercises had been for
nothing. All wasted energy. This
wasn't Natural Childbirth at all;
she wasn't helping, she wasn't see-
(Lewis, Rosemary's baby, 181)
(f) [Craig's son has been captured
In (f) the reader takes part in by the Yevd.]
Craig's sorrow and dismay about
not being told what he would like Craig said in a steady tone: "What
to hear. about my son?"
"Undoubtedly, they have further
plans for him. We are trying to
provide him with a weapon, but that
would have a limited value at
Craig realized wretchedly that they
were being very careful to say
nothing that would give him any
(Vogt, Universe, 133)
(g) Father, you're not understand-
In (g) the speaker is obviously ing me.
despaired. (Osborne, Luther, nach ca.25')
(h) [The girl's foot is trapped.]
In (h) the girl uses a simple
form at the beginning, but when She tried to move, and then called
the pain becomes unbearable she up. "I can't. It hurts."
expresses this by using a (...)
"No, no! It hurts," she protested.
She lay back on the sand, the knee
of the trapped leg sticking up in
the air. "Oh, it's hurting so," she
said. She could not hold back the
tears any longer. They ran down her
Examples (a) She said: "Well, I expect
with continuous usage E3 you'll be wanting to go on with
your work. You mustn't let me keep
Here the speaker uses continuous you."
forms because he wants to be (Christie, Paddington, 42)
(b) "I suggest that we change the
subject." He looked at Charles Rus-
sell. "And how are you finding re-
tirement?" "Much as I'd hoped - the
day isn't long enough."
(Haggard, Hardliners, 9)
Examples (a) "I'm being an awful lot of
with continuous usage E4 trouble."
(Updike, Centaur, 247)
Here the speaker uses continuous
forms to express modesty. (b) [Jimmy:]
In (b) and (c) the effect of Thought of the title of a new song
modesty is emphasized even more today. It's called "My mother's in
by the additional use of 'past'. the madhouse - that's why I'm in
love with you". The lyrics are
catchy too. I was thinking we might
work it into the act.
(Osborne, Look back, Faber, 79)
(c) "I read about your appointment,
Dr Caton - incidentally may I offer
my congratulations? - and I was
wondering what was going to happen
to that article of mine you were
good enough to accept for your
journal. Can you tell me when it'll
(Amis, Jim, 192)
In (d) the idea of modesty is (d) "I had been hoping for an op-
expressed three times, by portunity of talking to you," he
'continuous', by 'past' and by said. "I was reading one of your
'perfect'. Newspeak articles in The Times the
(Orwell, 1984, 128)
Examples (a) Now it had come! Now she was
with continuous usage E5 hearing the hollowness in the ether
that meant London was coming.
When verbs which are mostly used (Fleming, No, 11)
in simple verbal parts are found
with continuous, the reason is (b) "You didn't notice me today."
often that the speaker wants to "I'm noticing you now."
express a contrast. (Stout, Women, 45)
In (a) and (b) the contrast is (c) "My late husband always used to
between what is happening now and say ..."
what was happening before.
"Never mind what he said. What
In (c, d, e, f, g) the contrast about your ticket?"
is between the actions or states
referred to and what is consider- It was hard for Gwen to be as rude
ed as normal. and unpleasant as she was being. In
the ordinary way she would have
dealt with this old woman firmly,
yet remained friendly and good-
(Hailey, Airport, 380)
(d) "You're being very mysterious
and stupid tonight."
(Bingham, Marion, 81)
(e) "Perhaps I got a little too
excited. Maybe I was seeing
(Laumer, Demons, 33)
(f) No longer could he doubt that
he was seeing miracles.
(g) [He came to the conclusion:]
He was tired and was seeing things
in a peculiar perspective. Also the
hot sun might well have given him
(Moorcock, Time, 143f)
(h) [They are making a tour on the
In (h) the contrast is between
the action happening and what It was the same sort of stuff you
happens every day. can read any month in Spaceways
Magazine, only we were seeing it
and that makes a difference, let me
(i) "You're looking unusually
In (i) the contrast is between (Waugh, Brideshead revisited, 331)
what is happening and what is
usual. (j) "There's a lot of it I don't
know, but there's some of it I do,
In (j) the contrast is between and some more that I can guess at,
the state referred to and what and, give me another day like this,
can be expected. I'll soon be knowing things about
it that you don't know."
(Hammett, Maltese falcon, 77)
(k) "You aren't thinking that the
doctor's wife may have been black-
In (k) and (l) the contrast is mailed, too?"
between what happens and what (Freeling, Criminal, 61)
would be expected, i.e. here the
idea of surprise is expressed. (l) Menderez was outrageous but he
wouldn't be disliked. A little sur-
prised. Francis realized that he
was liking him very much.
(Haggard, Closed, 55)
(m) The human race was seeing Ran-
In (m) and (n) the contrast is dalls's comet for the first and
between the action referred to, perhaps the only time.
which is new, and things as they (Clarke, Time, 59)
(n) [On a new X-ray technique.]
"We are seeing details we have nev-
er seen, so we will have to learn
to interpret them."
(Newsweek, 25.3.74, 57)
(o) Dermod looked at him with his
In (o) and (p) the contrast is eyes so bleak and distant that Con-
between what a person is doing way felt that the Commander wasn't
and where his or her thoughts seeing him at all.
are. (White, Star, 115)
(p) I had been hearing it [the
sound] for some time, I realized,
but had paid no attention to it.
(Simak, Doll, 67)
(q) "Paddy, Paddy! Be a good girl."
In (q) the contrast is between "I am being a good girl. (...)"
how Paddy thinks she is behaving (Heinlein, Podcayne, 91)
and how Girdie says she is
behaving. (r) I've been seeing them for a
full three months. It's basically
In (r) the contrast is between the same recurrent dream in all
dream and reality. cases.
(Ballard, Drowned, 71)
(s) "Up in Seattle they quoted me
In (s) the contrast is between $280 for dental work," says Bernard
what dentists charge in Mexico, Wyse (...). "Here, it's costing
and what they charge in Seattle. $60."
(Newsweek, 14.1.74, 50)
Examples (a) Often, standing in the dusk of
with continuous usage F a muddy lane, he would think, Now I
could be sipping my wine in the
Here the speaker uses continuous Champs Elys‚es, or gazing at the
to say that in his imagination Collosseum. Hearing the sleepy sea,
he is putting himself in the or the drumming of rain on the tin
situation where the action roof, or the music of Welsh voices,
happens. he would think, I could be hearing
the clack of the Castanets, or the
In (a) Poppa tries to imagine surge of great music in Bayreuth,
himself in various situations. Paris (...).
(Malpass, Morning's, 130)
In (b) the hearer, by listening (b) [On the astronauts on the
to the astronauts' talk, is moon.]
supposed to imagine that he is on
the moon with the astronauts. "But here is some description of
what they're seeing at the moment:
[We can hear now what the astro-
nauts are telling Houston.]
(BBC 6.2.71, 190)