Sunday, 31 January 2016

The present perfect progressive

The present perfect progressive tense forms talk about
1. actions that started in the past time and that is going on in the present time almost without
             He’s been writing letters all day/since morning.
             We’ve been living here almost a year/since last Christmas.
             I’ve been waiting here for an hour already/since six o’clock.

2. actions that occur more or less frequently:
             We’ve been meeting every Friday for years now/since we became friends.
             I’ve been giving guest lectures regularly since April/ for six months now.
We meet every Friday
I give lectures regularly.

3. actions expressing intentions that are yet to become facts:
             Don’t pay any attention to their promises; they’ve been promising to repair the
             I’m so sorry; I’ve been meaning to see you for ages but I’m quite busy at work.
             The Committee has been threatening to resign—but I don’t expect they will in
             the end.
             He’s been asking Sumathi to marry him ever since they first met.(without success)
             We’ve been trying for a World Bank loan for a year now.(we haven’t got it yet)

They promised to repair the roof. (but they haven’t kept it.)
They’ve promised to repair the roof. (So I hope they’ll start the work soon.)

The Committee threatened to resign. (but they haven’t so far.)
The Committee has threatened to resign. (It’

He asked Sumathi to marry him. (This sentence merely narrates a definite act in the past.)
He’s asked Sumathi to marry him. (I she will./ He hopes she will.)

We tried for a World Bank loan. (but we didn’t / haven’t got it.)
We have tried for World Bank loan. (hopefully we will get it.)

The Present perfect tense form and the three times

The Present perfect tense form helps talk about
actions and states in the
i. present time 
ii. future time 
iii. three times (inclusive)  
iv. past times.

i. present time
1. We start some actions  sometime in the past and complete them in the present time
           I have filled the questionnaire. (I started filling sometime ago.)
           He has washed the clothes.      (I started washing sometime ago.)
2. actions that started in the past time and continue in the present time: 
          The police have not caught the thief.
             (Attempt to catch the thief started sometime in the past but it is still continuing)
           I’ve never seen such a beautiful sunset.
             (I saw several sunsets in the past, the present sunset is the most beautiful.)    

           I’ve not visited my parents for quite some time now. (= I’m yet to visit)

           He has been in the army since 1990. (=He’s still in the army.)
           Have you known him for long? (=You know him even now.)
           You haven’t given me an answer. (You’re yet to reply.)
           They haven’t faxed the particulars. (=The particulars are not here even now.)
           He has sung in this choir ever since he was a boy. (=He continues to be in the choir.)
           This district has suffered from disastrous floods throughout history.
             (=The suffering happens from time to time and  people are suffering now)
           I’ve never seen a cheetah. (=I’m yet to see a cheetah.)

ii. past time
3. actions that started and completed in the recent past time:
      He’s just gone out. = He went out a few minutes ago.  
      The post has just come.= The post came only a moment ago.   
   Note: ‘Recent’ means that the past time is so close to the present time that the action is considered more
                present that past.
             He went out a little while ago/ an hour ago/ in the morning.
             He went out just now.   }
            The post came just now.} when we use ‘just now’, the tense has to be in the                                         
4. the results in the present time of actions that completed in the recent past time:
           I’ve lost my pen. (=I lost it last night. I’m unable to write.)
           I’ve forgotten to bring the cheque book.
              (I forgot it at the time of starting for the office, so I am unable to help you now.)
           My dad has bought a car. (=My dad bought it yesterday. So, we don’t have to take the bus.)
           We’ve gathered all the information you wanted.
              (= You can now discuss how to put the information to use.)

5. the focus in on the result in the present time of actions whose completion is indefinite in
    the past time (what is important here is not when the action took place; what is important is whether we
                               can do now some activity related to it):
            Have you read David Copperfield?
                  (=Do you know the story?/ Can we discuss it?)
            Yes, I have been to London. (=I can give you useful information about London.)
            All our children have had measles.
                  (=They know now what it is like/ They are now immune to it.)
            I’ve never known her to be so angry.
                  (=She showed her anger in the past, but now she’s very angry. What could be the reason for
                          such anger?
            I’ve already met your sister.
                  (=I met her in a party a few weeks ago. So, there is no need for introduction.)
iii. future time
6. actions in ‘time’ clauses that will be completed sometime in the future:
            I’ll repair your bicycle when I’ve finished this job.
            By the time you’ve read the book, you’ll know all the answers.
            I’ll come with you, but wait until I’ve written this letter.       
            Let him go once he has answered all your questions

iv. Adverbs that go with present perfect
            Have you had lunch yet?  
      Have they still not replied to our letter?
            Has anyone ever climbed Mt. Everest alone?
      I’ve already decided how to deal with him.
            The population has increased tremendously during this century.
            We’ve lost a lot of business this year.
            He’s rung up three times already.
            I’ve lived here for twenty years.
            I’ve lived here since 1991.

Note: Most of us make the mistake of saying ‘since twenty years’.
                  for + length of time/duration of time of the action
                  for a long time, for the third week in succession, for two weeks, for the last week
                  since + the starting time of the action
                  since yesterday, since last week, since Monday, since September, since 2002   

v. Note the differences in meaning
      Somu lived in Paris for ten years. (=he no longer lives there.) 
      Somu has lived in Paris for ten years. (=he still lives there.)
            Where did you put my wallet? (=Do you remember where …) 
      Where have you put my wallet? (=I want to know where it is now.)

      I saw wolves in that forest once.
                  (=There may be no wolves now./ The forest has been cut down.)  
      I’ve seen wolves in that forest. (Possibly you can see wolves even today.)


The Present Progressive tense form and the three times

The Present progressive tense form helps talk about
actions and states in the
i. present time 
ii. future time 
iii. three times (inclusive)  

i. present time
1. actions at the moment of speaking:
             It’s raining.  
                I’m not wearing a coat.
                Why are you sitting at my desk?
                What’s the baby doing?
                The sun is shining.  
                The baby is crying.
              The train is arriving at platform number 3.

2. exceptions to routines:
             The suppliers are asking for immediate payment on delivery.
                  [The usual time limit is thirty days.]
               He always works hard but now he’s overdoing things.
                I’m making an exception, just this once.

3. definite arrangements:
             She’s leaving for London on the evening flight.
                We’re throwing a party next weekend.
                Seema is attending a Conference on the 31st.

 4. actions continuing but not necessarily at the moment of speaking:
          I’m learning French. ( now I am traveling)
          My brother is writing a novel. (he may be in his office now)

5. actions happening intermittently, not necessarily now:
           Mr Vikram is writing a novel.
             Ravi is playing in the first eleven this season.
             I’m learning French.

ii. future time
6. definite arrangements:
             She’s leaving for London on the evening flight.
                We’re throwing a party next weekend.
                Seema is attending a Conference on the 31st.
                We’re singing at a charity concert next Saturday.
                I’m seeing my dentist next Monday.
                 He’s leaving for the States next month.
            Are you doing anything tonight?
            Srinivasan is coming next week and is staying here till his departure to London.

iii. The three times
7. annoyance or irritation at repeated activities/habits:
          I’m always forgetting people’s names.
           You’re continually finding fault with me.
           My husband is forever losing money at the races.

8. actions continuing but not necessarily at the moment of speaking:
          I’m learning French. (I may be traveling)
          My brother is writing a novel. (he may be in his office now)

9. a frequently repeated action which annoys the speaker or
    seems unreasonable to him/her:
           He’s always working late at the office.
             The train is continually arriving late.
             He’s always grumbling.
Note: There’s no such negative implication in: I’m always learning.

10. repetitions during a given period of time:
             The Principal is typing her own letters while her P.A. is ill.

11. repetitions at a given moment of time:
             Whenever I see him, he’s roaming around.
             Remember that when you’re taking rest, someone is always working.

12. an on-going change of ‘state’ over a period:
             The weather is getting colder.
             The sun is ripening the mangoes nicely.
             Our economic prospects are now improving.

13. actions happening intermittently, not necessarily now:
             Mr Vikram is writing a novel.
             Ravi is playing in the first eleven this season.
             I’m learning French.

14. actions happening again and again:
           Every time I hear about him, he’s making trouble for himself.
             Whenever you see him, he’s either sleeping or gossiping.
             Don’t let it worry you; he’s constantly trying to impress others.

iv. Present progressive tense versus present tense forms:        
15. The present tense expresses permanence while the present progressive,
      We live in the suburbs.           [ permanent residence]
             We are living in the suburbs.  [ for the time being, we may move out]

             Where does Gopi work?         [ permanent place]
             Where is Gopi working at present? [Gopi changes jobs frequently.]

             We start work at nine o’clock, but for this week we are starting at 8.30.

             Father retires next year.        [ which is his normal retiring age]
             Father is retiring next year.   [ though he’s only fifty-five]

16. The present tense refers to competence whereas the present progressive,
      performance on a particular occasion or during a particular season:  
      Suguna sings well.         [ her ability is almost permanent]
             Suguna is singing well.  [ her ability is visible in the given situation]

17. When used with first person in a letter,
       the present tense form of  ‘write’, ‘send’, ‘hasten’ implies an official (formal) tone: 
         I write this to inform you that…    
    the present progressive of these verbs implies informality:
                  I’m writing to inform you that …

18. Verbs like ‘see’, hear’, ‘have, ‘like’, ‘feel’, ‘expect’, ‘resemble’, ‘hope’, ‘smell’, ‘taste’, ‘impress’, doubt’,
        ‘find’, ‘forget’, ‘want’, ‘mind’ are used in present progressive tense only when they
       carry meanings (messages) different from their normal meanings. See the different
       meanings in the following sentences:
              I don’t see anything here. ( refers to ‘normal sight’) 
              I’m seeing the dentist this evening. (meet by appointment)
              They’re seeing their cousin off. (say goodbye)
              We’re seeing about a work permit for you. (trying to arrange…)
              The plumber is here; he’s seeing to the leak in our tank. (dealing with….)

              This is your last warning. Do you hear me? (do you understand)
              I’m not hearing as well as I used to. (my hearing is not good now)
              I’ve been hearing all about this accident. (receiving the news/information)
              The judge is hearing our case tomorrow. (the trial starts tomorrow)

              I think you’re wrong. (in my opinion …)
              I’m thinking of emigrating. (mental process)

              I have a house. (possession)
              I can’t open the door; I’m having a bath. (taking a bath)
              We’re having a wonderful time. (enjoying ourselves)
              I’m having a tooth taken out tomorrow. (getting the dentist to take out the tooth)
              I was having difficulty staying awake. (experiencing)

              He likes me very much. (finds me pleasant/attractive)
              How’s liking his new job? (is he enjoying it)
              I love my wife. (have very strong feeling of affection)
                 I’m loving every moment of it. (am enjoying…..)
                 I feel you are right. (think/believe/ in my opinion)
                 Are you feeling alright? (are you having a problem—physical or mental)
              Parents expect their children to be high achievers.(demand as a duty)    
                 I’m expecting a courier. (waiting for)      
                 She’s expecting a baby this June. (giving birth to)

              She resembles her father. (the likeness is permanent)
              She’s resembling her father more and more.(the likeness is happening over a
              I hope you’ll come. (an expectation directly expressed)
              I’m hoping you’ll come. (an expectation politely expressed

              Our roses smell sweet.
              She’s smelling our roses. (sniffing)

              The soup tastes bitter.
              She’s tasting the soup to check the seasoning.(checking)

              His views impress me. (I think highly of him)
              He’s impressing his views upon the Management. (trying to influence)
              Do you doubt my word? (on one occasion)    
              He’s always doubting my word. (on several occasions—a complaint)   

              I find that I was mistaken. (have a feeling/opinion…..
              I’m finding that this problem is more complicated than I had thought.
              (am slowly discovering….)
              I forget her name. (can’t recollect)  
              I’m forgetting my French. (gradual loss)
              Aren’t you forgetting your manners? (failing to show manners)

              He wants to be a doctor.
              What’s he wanting this time? (what’s his latest request/demand)

               Do you mind if I open the window? (object to opening)
               My neighbour is minding the baby while his wife is out shopping.
                     (looking after)  

In summary, the present progressive tense expresses
  (i) actions in the present time (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
 (ii) actions in the future time (6)
(iii) actions in the present, past, future time (7, 8. 9, 10, 11, 12, 13,14)

  iv) difference between the progressive and the simple (15, 16, 17, 18)