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    • Join Date: Aug 2005
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    #1

    haphazard use of the p.s. and p.c. ?

    Howdy,

    Listen to this sentece uttered by a native speaker (a professor of philosophy from the USA I should add)

    Individuality basically comes down to the idea of individual choice and it's the heart of Sartre's philosophy that we're always making choices, we make them as individuals, it doesn't matter if the whole world or the whole society makes them at the same time [...]

    I don't get it, sometime he says making sometimes he says make. It doesn't make sense to me (or should I say: it's not making sense to me?) How am I supposed to KNOW if I use or I'm using (???) the correct tense now??? Yeah, I know the rules, but all of a sudden a native speaker says something (or is saying something ???) that drives me crazy and I'm lost whatsoever :( And by the way, there's always in one of his sentences and still he said make+ing :/

    Best wishes, if anyone could answer both my question and my doubts in my sentences, I'd be delighted and gratefull

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: haphazard use of the p.s. and p.c. ?

    This use of "always + <v> = -ing" is a normal way (possibly slightly informal) of saying repeatedly making (that is, the -ing refers to repeated action, not continuous.)

    PS. When I said 'possibly slightly informal' I meant to add a "?". I don't think there's anything informal about this construction now, but I imagine my grandfather might have avoided it. He would have said, for example, 'A living creature's heart is constantly/continuously beating' - dismissing this use of 'always' as "sloppy"; probably, knowing him, he would have blamed it on the colonials.

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 01-Jun-2009 at 16:39.


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    #3

    Re: haphazard use of the p.s. and p.c. ?

    hmm... thanks, could you also help me and explain how I should write those of my sentences that I have (or I'm having?) doubts about?


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    #4

    Re: haphazard use of the p.s. and p.c. ?

    Why do I say, "It rains a lot in Scotland.", but if I look out the window and I see rain coming down, I don't say, "It rains" but "It is raining."

    The difference is between the Present tense statement of a fact:
    "It rains a lot here."
    and similarly, your sentence:
    "We make choices." This has been true since man first walked, and will be true till the end of time. The idea of this occurring over some period of time is irrelevant - a Present tense fact is timeless.

    and
    ...the specific act of making a choice, which occurs over a limited time period, with a definite beginning, and a foreseen end. For this, we use the Present Continuous:
    "We are choosing new carpet, and it's down to this beige one and the fawn one." The actual act of 'making a choice' cannot be conceived of in any other way than that the action of doing so takes time: it occupies a period of time, from 'we need to choose', 'deliberating', and then 'making the decision'.
    "We are making a choice of new carpet."
    '..is/are always verb+ing..', as Bobk states, is a use of this for repeated actions that occur from time to time.
    Last edited by David L.; 01-Jun-2009 at 16:52.


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    #5

    Re: haphazard use of the p.s. and p.c. ?

    I'm still not sure about my sentences...

    1. It doesn't make sense to me (or should I say: it's not making sense to me?) 2. How am I supposed to KNOW if I use / or I'm using (???) the correct tense now???
    3. Yeah, I know the rules, but all of a sudden a native speaker says something (or is saying something ???)

    thanks

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: haphazard use of the p.s. and p.c. ?

    Quote Originally Posted by forum_mail View Post
    I'm still not sure about my sentences...

    1. It doesn't make sense to me (or should I say: it's not making sense to me?) 2. How am I supposed to KNOW if I use / or I'm using (???) the correct tense now???
    3. Yeah, I know the rules, but all of a sudden a native speaker says something (or is saying something ???)

    thanks
    You can certainly say "This isn't making sense to me at all!" since by now it is an ongoing process, for which we use the continuous tense.
    You can say either "I have doubts about the usage" or "I'm having doubts about the usage".
    You can't say "How am I supposed to know that I use the correct tense now".

    It's difficult to explain further without having to disrespect your assertion that you already know the rules. If you were willing to relax your certainty about that, we might be able to help further.


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    #7

    Re: haphazard use of the p.s. and p.c. ?

    well, I seem to know them, at least to a certain extent... the thing is that I always come across sentences that make me stop and wonder "hey, what's going on"

    even now I'm thinking in the following manner "hmm, I've just written 'I always come across...', but maybe I should have said 'I'm always coming across'" It drives me crazy! really...

    I'm more than willing to cooperate and I'm relly more than willing to admit that my knowledge requires further development, but I simply thought that after so many years I got the basics...

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    #8

    Re: haphazard use of the p.s. and p.c. ?

    Quote Originally Posted by forum_mail View Post
    well, I seem to know them, at least to a certain extent... the thing is that I always come across sentences that make me stop and wonder "hey, what's going on"
    That's good. You don't ask "What goes on?" because you understand that the process is ongoing.

    even now I'm thinking in the following manner "hmm, I've just written 'I always come across...', but maybe I should have said 'I'm always coming across'" It drives me crazy! really...
    There's no need for it to drive you crazy. Sometimes you can say either version. You can say "It drives me crazy!" (It's a thing that happens habitually), or "It's driving me crazy" (It's an ongoing process). The only difference here is whether you conceptualise it as a sequence of discrete instances or as one continual instance. In many cases, this is really a pedantic point, as it is in your original post about making choices.
    "We made choices yesterday, we make choices today, and we will make choices tomorrow - we're always making choices." Each individual choice is a discrete event, but the making of choices is an ongoing task for humans.
    "We're always making choices, we make them as individuals, we make them in groups, we make them as a couple etc..."
    Can you see that in this example, the first phrase states that choices are continually being made; then the author goes on to give discrete examples of how we (habitually) make choices.

    I'm more than willing to cooperate and I'm relly more than willing to admit that my knowledge requires further development, but I simply thought that after so many years I got the basics...
    This is a matter of usage and style, not specifically of grammar. You have learnt that there are some cases where we always use the simple present, and some where we need to use the continuous. Now you are learning that there are many cases where either would do, or where the preferred tense depends on pragmatic matters that the grammar books don't cover.

    You can post further examples that you're not sure of if you like.
    R.


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    #9

    Re: haphazard use of the p.s. and p.c. ?

    thanks Raymott (and (the?) others) I really appreciate all (the?) answers and all (the?) help! I think I'll dig up some old questions I used to have and then I dropped them 'cause there were simply to many to post

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