Have you dyed/been dying your hair?

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old woman

Senior Member
dutch
If I see someone who has changed the colour of their hair I would ask: "Have you dyed your hair?"

I have come across examples where people who have dyed their hair are asked: "have you been dying your hair?"

My question is: why is the continuous used ? Because people regard the dying as a habit or can the continuous also be used if the dying happened once?
 
  • DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Yes, but can the progressive also be used if it happened only once?
    The continuous tense there does strongly suggest that he or she may have done it more than once. If you just happen to notice that their hair is a different colour to when you last saw it, we'd probably use the simple tense. :)
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    English - SSBE Standard British
    This sounds like "have you ever dyed your hair?"
    It doesn't!

    The question "Have you dyed your hair?" doesn't suggest 'ever'. If you mean 'ever', you'd have to say it. For example, if your friend has always had the same colour hair for as long as you've known her and you're curious about whether she ever experimented with different colours at some point in her life before you met, you would then say "Have you ever dyed your hair?".

    But let's say that you meet a friend in the street today and notice that her hair is a different shade from the last time you met, you then might say "Have you dyed your hair?". The perfective aspect is used not to refer to an unspecified time in her life ( i.e. 'ever') . It refers to an event in the period of time leading up to the present, with a clear impact on the present moment: in other words, that she had blonde hair last week and she now has ginger hair.

    Can you use a present perfect progressive in the same context? It's possible, but less likely. If we're focusing on the difference between her hair colour last week and her hair colour now - i.e. the result of something that she's done - it would be normal to use the present perfect simple.

    For me, the present perfect continuous would only be used in this context to signal the speaker's disapproval about the activity itself (yes, the same as in your example of the man caught short in the car park!) . A mother might say "Have you been dyeing your hair?" in a suspicious tone to her teenage daughter to focus on her behaviour, rather than on the result. Remember that that's what the continuous aspect is all about - a focus on the activity.
     
    Last edited:

    old woman

    Senior Member
    dutch
    It doesn't!

    The question "Have you dyed your hair?" doesn't suggest 'ever'. If you mean 'ever', you'd have to say it. For example, if your friend has always had the same colour hair for as long as you've known her and you're curious about whether she ever experimented with different colours at some point in her life before you met, you would then say "Have you ever dyed your hair?".

    But let's say that you meet a friend in the street today and notice that her hair is a different shade from the last time you met, you then might say "Have you dyed your hair?". The perfective aspect is used not to refer to an unspecified time in her life ( i.e. 'ever') . It refers to an event in the period of time leading up to the present, with a clear impact on the present moment: in other words, that she had blonde hair last week and she now has ginger hair.

    Can you use a present perfect progressive in the same context? It's possible, but less likely. If we're focusing on the difference between her hair colour last week and her hair colour now - i.e. the result of something that she's done - it would be normal to use the present perfect simple.

    For me, the present perfect continuous would only be used in this context to signal the speaker's disapproval about the activity itself (yes, the same as in your example of the man caught short in the car park!) . A mother might say "Have you been dyeing your hair?" in a suspicious tone to her teenage daughter to focus on her behaviour, rather than on the result. Remember that that's what the continuous aspect is all about - a focus on the activity.
    Thank you so much for your clear explanation, much appreciated!
     

    old woman

    Senior Member
    dutch
    It doesn't!

    The question "Have you dyed your hair?" doesn't suggest 'ever'. If you mean 'ever', you'd have to say it. For example, if your friend has always had the same colour hair for as long as you've known her and you're curious about whether she ever experimented with different colours at some point in her life before you met, you would then say "Have you ever dyed your hair?".

    But let's say that you meet a friend in the street today and notice that her hair is a different shade from the last time you met, you then might say "Have you dyed your hair?". The perfective aspect is used not to refer to an unspecified time in her life ( i.e. 'ever') . It refers to an event in the period of time leading up to the present, with a clear impact on the present moment: in other words, that she had blonde hair last week and she now has ginger hair.

    Can you use a present perfect progressive in the same context? It's possible, but less likely. If we're focusing on the difference between her hair colour last week and her hair colour now - i.e. the result of something that she's done - it would be normal to use the present perfect simple.

    For me, the present perfect continuous would only be used in this context to signal the speaker's disapproval about the activity itself (yes, the same as in your example of the man caught short in the car park!) . A mother might say "Have you been dyeing your hair?" in a suspicious tone to her teenage daughter to focus on her behaviour, rather than on the result. Remember that that's what the continuous aspect is all about - a focus on the activity.
    Is it possible to use "have you been dyeing your hair" in a different context, without expressing disapproval? For example I can see coloured marks in the sink or I can smell hair dye in the bathroom? I am asking about the activity without disapproving of it?
     
    Last edited:

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    English - SSBE Standard British
    Is it possible to use "have you been dying your hair" in a different context, without expressing disapproval? For example I can see coloured marks in the sink or I can smell hair dye in the bathroom? I am asking about the activity without disapproving of it?
    Yes, that might work. It focuses on the activity itself rather than the finished task.
     

    sinukg

    Senior Member
    Malayalam
    It doesn't!

    The question "Have you dyed your hair?" doesn't suggest 'ever'. If you mean 'ever', you'd have to say it. For example, if your friend has always had the same colour hair for as long as you've known her and you're curious about whether she ever experimented with different colours at some point in her life before you met, you would then say "Have you ever dyed your hair?".

    But let's say that you meet a friend in the street today and notice that her hair is a different shade from the last time you met, you then might say "Have you dyed your hair?". The perfective aspect is used not to refer to an unspecified time in her life ( i.e. 'ever') . It refers to an event in the period of time leading up to the present, with a clear impact on the present moment: in other words, that she had blonde hair last week and she now has ginger hair.

    Can you use a present perfect progressive in the same context? It's possible, but less likely. If we're focusing on the difference between her hair colour last week and her hair colour now - i.e. the result of something that she's done - it would be normal to use the present perfect simple.

    For me, the present perfect continuous would only be used in this context to signal the speaker's disapproval about the activity itself (yes, the same as in your example of the man caught short in the car park!) . A mother might say "Have you been dyeing your hair?" in a suspicious tone to her teenage daughter to focus on her behaviour, rather than on the result. Remember that that's what the continuous aspect is all about - a focus on the activity.
    I'd like to ask one question here. Suppose I saw someone last week in white hair. Today I saw him with black hair. Can't I ask him "Have you dyed your hair? or "Did you dye your hair?" Another context, I ask someone "Do you dye your hair?" (As a regular activity). But I can't imagine a context where I can ask someone "Have you been dyeing your hair?" I'd like to get your opinion on this.
     

    old woman

    Senior Member
    dutch
    I'd like to ask one question here. Suppose I saw someone last week in white hair. Today I saw him with black hair. Can't I ask him "Have you dyed your hair? or "Did you dye your hair?" Another context, I ask to someone "Do you dye your hair?" (As a regular activity). But I can't imagine a context where I can ask someone "Have you been dyeing your hair?" I'd like to get your opinion on this.
    The anwers to your questions are mentioned in the posts above.
     
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