Ben you're always running here and there

slovac

Senior Member
Could I ask please? I saw following sentence: Ben you're always running here and there. I would like to ask why there was used present continous tense. That sentence seems to me like repeated activity(due to always) and I was taught that in this case it is better to use simple present tense.
Thank you.
 
  • dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    The use of the present continuous might, be not necessarily so, convey some kind of irritation with the person in question.
    The fact that he or she leads such a hectic lifestyle might annoy the person speaking. Let's take the following sentence:

    Tom, you're always wasting my time!

    If you were to say this, you'd be visibly angry with Tom.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    In your example, this is not a series of incidents, the implication is that he is constantly running here and there. Obviously, he isn't, so this is also an example of hyperbole.
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    Consider also the possibility that Don Black might have chosen those words partly just to fit the rhythm of Walter Scharf's music.
    It's a beautiful song. The singer is not at all irritated with Ben, but rather sympathizes with him as a fugitive, always feeling pursued and unwanted.
     

    dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    The singer is not at all irritated with Ben, but rather sympathizes with him as a fugitive, always feeling pursued and unwanted.
    I coudn't have known that, sorry. Such a use of the present continuous has the potential of conveying irritation, as shown in my post #2, so I feel somewhat justified.
     
    Last edited:

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    You're right, dreamlike, that always + present continuous can express irritation. It's probably easiest to think of it as conveying the speaker's reaction to the unexpectedly high frequency of the event or action. That reaction can be surprise, annoyance, or even pleasure:
    He's such a generous man - he's always buying me lovely presents!
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    There is another factor that should be considered. The sentence itself is a line from the song "Ben," made famous by Michael Jackson, and I think it's important to point out that the Ben in the song is, in fact, a rat. I mean literally a rat - a rodent with whiskers and long tail. It's the theme song from a movie about a rat and the little boy who loves him. (It's a horror movie, so it isn't nearly as heartwarming as it sounds. ;) ) Ben is always running here and there because that's what rats do. The present continuous can be used to express annoyance, but it isn't here because the boy does love that rat.
     
    Last edited:

    dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Oh, I see.
    The initial assumption that I have made seems very insensible to me now that I know all that but.. I wasn't familiar with this song by MJ and the film in which it was used.

    To answer Slovac's question -- the use of the present continous can convey a whole range of emotions, as suggested by Loob in her post #6. :)
    In this particular case, it's sympathy (see post #4).
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    Hey, dreamlike, you have no need to apologize. You are very right about "you're always __-ing" often conveying annoyance/irritation.
    Loob sorts it out very well: a number of different emotions are possible, but irritation is certainly major among them.
    Literally, no one is always doing anything (except maybe breathing). So "always" is a figurative exaggeration, a hyperbole—which may be the essential reason that it signals emotion.
    And yes, JustKate, "running here and there" takes on special meaning when you know Ben is a rat.
    I've never seen the movie, but I think the song is musically enjoyable and the lyrics are touching. (We're not supposed to give links to videos, but you can find it online.)

    But getting back to the original question, it's not so easy to answer.
    Music aside, why don't we say "Ben, you always run here and there"?
    Is it that the simple present with "always" refers to separate, individual occasions?
    • "You always run away from trouble." (Davies) Each (separate) time that there's trouble, you run away from it.
    • "You're always running away from trouble" would mean, perhaps, "Every time I see you, you are in the middle of a run to escape trouble, so you seem to be 'always' running from trouble (though I know you must stop to eat and sleep)."
     
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >
    Top