As soon as the needle penetrates the fabric you are damaging it.

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member

I am currently working at a distribution centre. One of our tasks is tagging clothes.

My colleague is trying to explain to me that we need to be very careful when handling needles, since the fabrics are quite sensitive.

Could she say:as soon as the need penetrates the fabric you are damaging it and it won’t be sold.

I am wondering about “you are damaging it”.
  • Fbohn21

    Senior Member
    Would there be a big difference between “as soon as you penetrate” and “as soon as you are penetrating”?


    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    And would 'you damage it' be equally good?
    Yes. The use of the continuous tense emphasizes the duration of the activity. It sounds strange because the act of penetration is not something we think of as taking much time - it's a black/white situation. If (As soon as) you penetrate the fabric you damage it. There's no need for the continuous tense. You could emphasize the repetetitive nature "Each time you penetrate the fabric you are damgaing it" - the damage is a continuing result of the repetitive act.

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I have no problem with using the present continuous, to make the result of the action more emphatic, dynamic or real. It seems to me similar in effect to the dramatic/historic present for events that happened in the past

    The simple present would fine too. We use it to express what always happens, for example, 'the sun rises in the morning'.
    "Every time the needle goes in, it damages the fabric."

    (I'd use delicate for fabric, not sensitive.)
    < Previous | Next >