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  1. #1
    CitySpeak Guest

    Default What's "doing" doing there?

    "What are we supposed to be doing?"

    What is "doing" in this sentence?

    I would say "be" is an infinitive acting as a noun (verbal/verbid) and is the object of the semi-modal/verb form "are supposed to". (be supposed to - semi-modal)

    Does that mean we can say "doing" is a present participle that is part of a "progressive/continuous infinitive phrase" which is functioning as a noun?

    Is there a such thing as a "progressive/continuous infinitive phrase"?

    Simply put, what is "doing" in this sentence?


  2. #2
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    Default Re: What's "doing" doing there?

    Q: What are we supposed to be doing (right now)?
    A: We are supposed to be studying (right now).

    be supposed to functions as a quasi-modal and takes an infinitive as its object. Example:

    We are supposed to go fishing today. ('fishing' is a gerund)
    We are supposed to be at home studying. ('studying' is a gerund)

    Note, separating the word studying from the word be is a good indication that be studying is not functioning as a progressive/continuous verb in our sentence.

    studying is functioning as a gerund, which by the way, takes the form of a participle. That is, studying is both a participle (i.e. a present participle) and a gerund.

    In short,

    be supposed to + infinitive + nominal object (e.g. preposition, noun (gerund))

    :D

  3. #3
    CitySpeak Guest

    Default Re: What's "doing" doing there?

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Q: What are we supposed to be doing (right now)?
    A: We are supposed to be studying (right now).

    be supposed to functions as a quasi-modal and takes an infinitive as its object. Example:

    We are supposed to go fishing today. ('fishing' is a gerund)
    We are supposed to be at home studying. ('studying' is a gerund)

    Note, separating the word studying from the word be is a good indication that be studying is not functioning as a progressive/continuous verb in our sentence.

    studying is functioning as a gerund, which by the way, takes the form of a participle. That is, studying is both a participle (i.e. a present participle) and a gerund.

    In short,

    be supposed to + infinitive + nominal object (e.g. preposition, noun (gerund))

    :D
    be supposed to functions as a quasi-modal and takes an infinitive as its object. <<


    mm.....


    So, we can say "be doing" is the object of "are we supposed"?

    And "doing" is a gerund?

    Thank you for your reply.

    With all respect to your answer, I still feel puzzled about this.

    I somehow feel unsure, still, about "doing" functioning as a gerund, as "be" is part of the object as well. It seems that a present participle would follow "be" to me, and that the present participle would be part of the object. It seems strange that the infinitive "be" and a gerund would both be part of the same object. I think "doing" might be something else other than a gerund. I think it could be that it is actually a present participle within an object, or linked to the object "be".

    I may be completely wrong. I don't know.


    Sincerely,

    CS

    :?

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default

    Can't 'to be doing' be thought of as a progressive form? I see no problem with the idea at all.

  5. #5
    CitySpeak Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    Can't 'to be doing' be thought of as a progressive form? I see no problem with the idea at all.

    Sure. No problem. But I'm trying to be more specific.

    Can you say how it would be identified in the sentence? What would be the correct grammar term for it?

    What do we call "doing" in that sentence? Is it part of the object/noun/verbal "be doing"?

    Someone sent an email to a list serve of ESL teachers asking about this. I was not 100% sure how to answer. I'm asking for my own curiosity, but I might reply to the email. I'm not sure.


    8) 8)

  6. #6
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    Can't 'to be doing' be thought of as a progressive form? I see no problem with the idea at all.
    I rather agree.

    :wink:

  7. #7
    CitySpeak Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    Can't 'to be doing' be thought of as a progressive form? I see no problem with the idea at all.


    By the way, I sent a link to this discussion to the list serve of ESL teachers.



    8) :wink:

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default

    You can have a perfect infinitive, so why not a progressive one?

  9. #9
    CitySpeak Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    You can have a perfect infinitive, so why not a progressive one?

    Sounds good to me. I just thought there had to be something more to it. I couldn't find this particular structure in the reference materials I have.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: What's "doing" doing there?

    Thank you for your explanation. :D

    When dealing with catenative verb forms,

    We are supposed to be studying.

    'studying' functions as the object of 'to be'.

    In terms of what syntactic role 'studying' plays, structure tells me it's a noun but semantics tells me it's a progressive verb form. I remember reading somewhere some time ago that be + -ing functions as a pair, as a verb. Albeit, the fact that gerunds denote acts, yet function as non-acts, and, moreover, that "be" in our example sentence has a somewhat undefined ambiguity has me back at square one.

    There's also the question of the subjunctive. Do such verbs take continuous verb forms as their objects? If not, gerund seems to be the better choice.

    As for nominclature, 'to be studying' is the infinitive of "are studying", so there's no need to rename it.

    I like your analysis. You've me 65% hooked. I await further evidence. :D

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