Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 23
  1. #1
    timtak is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    31
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Stative present continuous posture verbs

    There are many verbs that represent mental acts that do not require motion in the present continuous.

    There are also a class of verbs that are stative in the present continuous in that they do not require any motion nor apparently a mental act: "posture verbs"

    Consider

    He is standing / sitting / leaning over / leaning on/ leaning out/ hanging from/ riding/ slouching / kneeling / bending over, bending down / prostrating himself/ lying / holding out his had/ holding his hand up.

    These all seem to refer to a state. Or do they? Bearing in mind that the same verbs may be more natural in the present when applied to inanimate objects (e.g. a clock stands in the hall is more natural perhaps than a clock is standing in the hall, winning a googlefight 10 hits to 0), perhaps these posture verbs refer to the mental action, the act of will required to maintain them.

    In in which case they would be like the many verbs that refer to mental acts such as thinking feeling which are also used in the present continuous to refer to seeming stative phenomena, where the action is taking place mentally.

    However, consider lying and sleeping. Lying down does not seem to require a mental act. Sleeping does not, by definition, require any mental activity at all (except when dreaming).



    PS These forums not only log people out quickly, they also do not save changes made, so that after one is forced to log in again, ones post is lost. So if you make a long post you may loose it. I hope that the site admin allows people to remain logged in for longer, or that form data be saved after login. In the mean time I recommend that users save their entries before they post.
    Last edited by timtak; 30-Oct-2010 at 07:17. Reason: corrections!

  2. #2
    Pokemon is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    247
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Stative present continuous posture verbs

    I believe the opposition of present simple vs. present continuous is mostly about a permanent vs. temporary characteristic of an object. It doesn't have much to do with an action vs. state. The posture of a living being is, naturally, temporary, while the posture of a dummy is permanent. So "The Prime Minister is standing in the corner" but "The wax model of the Prime Minister stands in the corner".

  3. #3
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,167
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Stative present continuous posture verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Pokemon View Post
    I believe the opposition of present simple vs. present continuous is mostly about a permanent vs. temporary characteristic of an object. .

    I agree with Pokemon, in part at least. I do not think that the present simple is necessarily about permanent charateristics, though situations presented in the present simple are viewed as less temporary than those presented in the present continuous. I feel that we use the continuous aspect when we wish to draw attention to the fact that the situation spoken of has duration, and that the duration is limited. That may seem to be a long-winded way of saying what Pokemon said more succinctly, but the word duration is important for me.

    I have expanded on this idea at boring length here:
    http://www.gramorak.com/Articles/Tense.pdf

  4. #4
    Pokemon is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    247
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Stative present continuous posture verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I agree with Pokemon, in part at least. I do not think that the present simple is necessarily about permanent charateristics, though situations presented in the present simple are viewed as less temporary than those presented in the present continuous. I feel that we use the continuous aspect when we wish to draw attention to the fact that the situation spoken of has duration, and that the duration is limited. That may seem to be a long-winded way of saying what Pokemon said more succinctly, but the word duration is important for me.

    I have expanded on this idea at boring length here:
    http://www.gramorak.com/Articles/Tense.pdf
    I don't like the word 'duration' when we talk about the continuous aspect in general. It may sometimes be misguiding. For example, 'We stayed at the hotel for 3 days'. Is it an action of duration? Yes, it is. Then why isn't the past countinuous used? I think duration is somehow associated with the time limits of an event. And when the time limits are specified we are normally interested in how long the event lasted, and use non-continuous tenses for it. I'm not saying always: for instance, "What were you doing from 5 till 7 p.m.?" But this word, duration, drives my focus in a different direction.

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,167
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Stative present continuous posture verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Pokemon View Post
    I don't like the word 'duration' when we talk about the continuous aspect in general. It may sometimes be misguiding. For example, 'We stayed at the hotel for 3 days'. Is it an action of duration? Yes, it is. Then why isn't the past countinuous used? Because the speaker has not chosen to place any emphasis on the duration or on the limited-ness of the duration.
    5jj

  6. #6
    Pokemon is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    247
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Stative present continuous posture verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    5jj
    Ok, let's put such an emphasis. Which would you choose:"We stayed at the hotel only 3 days", or "We were staying at the hotel only 3 days"?

  7. #7
    timtak is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    31
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Stative present continuous posture verbs

    This thread has gone in an unexpected direction.

    My original interest was in why the "posture verbs" take the present continuous though they do not seem to contain an action, or at least motion.

    Would it be a good idea to see them as being in the present continuous because they are impermanent?

    No one stands/sits/slouches/leans etc forever.

    Hmmm

    "He is blowing a bubble", means that he is in the process of blowing a bubble, not that a bubble has been blown. On the other hand "he is sitting", means that "he is seated", not that he is in the process of sitting. Even though it might be argued both the bubble, and the seated position are impermanent.
    Last edited by timtak; 01-Nov-2010 at 22:33. Reason: nothing important

  8. #8
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,167
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Stative present continuous posture verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by timtak View Post
    This thread has gone in an unexpected direction.

    My original interest was in why the "posture verbs" take the present continuous though they do not seem to contain an action, or at least motion.

    Would it be a good idea to see them as being in the present continuous because they are impermanent?

    No one stands/sits/slouches/leans etc forever.
    I think that your 'posture verbs' are like all verbs. When the situation (action, state, event, process) has duration, and that duration is limited, and when the speaker wishes to note these two things, the continuous aspect will be used. I think you are right in suggesting that a stative verb approach to continuous forms is not always helpful but I don't, yet, see how a posture-verb approach helps much either. I am working on it!

  9. #9
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,167
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Stative present continuous posture verbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Pokemon View Post
    Ok, let's put such an emphasis. Which would you choose:"We stayed at the hotel only 3 days", or "We were staying at the hotel only 3 days"?
    That is a very difficult question to answer without full context. Working on nothing but the words given, I think that I would probably use the simple form in my utterance. The three days gives the limited time period, only places a further type of limitation on the period, and the past tense identifies the time period as a completed situation.

  10. #10
    timtak is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    31
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Stative present continuous posture verbs

    It seems to me that posture verbs can be quite impermanent, compared to other verbs and still be in the present continuous.

    It seems to be relevant that they are intransitive, or reflexive.

    And anyway, isn't it strange that "I am standing" should refer to my erect posture rather than to my movement to the standing position? It seems strange to me, and strange to my students.


    Perhaps I am being influenced by the japanese language (I am a British national but I have lived in Japan 21/45 years).

    There is a large class of Japanese verbs called "subject change verbs" that likewise take the "present continuous" (or its Japnaese equivalent) even though they refer to a change haven taken place (e.g. fattening, falling, opening, closing, crossing in Japanese refer to the subject having got fat, fallen, opened, closed or crossed) and not to the act of change in process.

    Here is a page that mentions Japanese "subject change verbs"
    A Study of "V-te iru" in Japanese

    Under the influence of these verbs, and realising that there are some verbs in English that though static take the present continuous, I came under the impression that in English too, while more limited in number, there are also "subject change verbs" (though limited to subject-posture-change) that likewise represent the effect of the verb *having been carried out* rather than *in the process of being carried out,* even in the present continuous.

    For that matter, even in the present, "a machine stands in the corridoor" refers to a static machine, rather than to a machine which is slowly rising (or repeatedly rising) from the floor of the corridoor. This is obvious to a native speaker, but not to someone form another language. A machine throws in the corridoor, a machine falls over in the corridoor, a machine moves in the corridoor all refer to some movement going on. But stand refers to the motion already having happened.

    These "posture change" verbs are used in TOEIC Part I (photograph interpretation) questions as a right answer that Japanese people have trouble recognising. Believing that the present continuous in English refers to a movement, and seeing no movement in the photo, they do not realise that "He is leaning on the desk" is correct.

    Standing can mean the act in process in both Japanese and English "Look, the national anthem is starting, they are standing now." But in the vast majority of cases, "I am standing" does not mean that "I am standing!" It means I have already stood up, I have standed up!

    Tim
    Timothy Takemoto
    Last edited by timtak; 01-Nov-2010 at 23:53.

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 19-Sep-2010, 02:35
  2. REGRET + present continuous or present perfect continuous
    By fabiolatouchon in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 21-Oct-2009, 09:06
  3. [Grammar] present continuous with non-durative verbs
    By tangelatm in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03-May-2009, 19:42
  4. stative verbs vs. dynamic verbs
    By guzhao67 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 18-Oct-2008, 07:53
  5. stative verbs
    By phyllis in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 13-Oct-2004, 11:05

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •