Present Continuous after if/when/what/as sentences

Mr Penguin

New Member
Polish, Poland
Why is Present Continuous used after when/if/what clauses, if the Present Simple tense is preferable in the sentences with general meaning after if, when they refer to future/present?

Work on improving your listening skills so you can follow what people are saying. You can do this by listening to audio files from course books, watching films or TV series.

Additionally, listening to music can improve your mood if you're listening to it with the intention of becoming happier.

If you’re listening to something with a lot of angry bass, it tastes more bitter.

The app has lots of prompts to alert you when you're doing something that could hurt your credit score, such as getting too close to a payment date while having drawn down 30 percent or more of your credit line.

Reading books is a great way to improve your English. As you’re enjoying the story, you’re learning hundreds of useful words, phrases and expressions without even realising it.
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Why is Present Continuous used after when/if/what clauses, if the Present Simple tense is preferable in the sentences with general meaning after if, when they refer to future/present?
    All the examples you list are present continuous. They seem like normal examples of present continuous.

    Do you have an example of the Present Simple tense usage you refer to here? The Present Simple rule you describe in words is not clear to me.
     

    Mr Penguin

    New Member
    Polish, Poland
    It's something like the first conditional in English. If+Present Simple rule. Why is it Present Continuous?
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    In the five examples in #1, I think using Present Simple makes a correct sentence, with little difference in meaning.
     

    Vsevolod

    Senior Member
    Russian
    In the five examples in #1, I think using Present Simple makes a correct sentence, with little difference in meaning.
    Dojibear, could you, please, specify what sort of difference it makes?

    My try:) :


    "Work on improving your listening skills so you can follow what people are saying. = you understand what people are saying in any given specific conversation."

    "Work on improving your listening skills so you can follow what people say. = every time you hear a conversation in this language you understand it."

    Is it that Present Continuous puts more emphasis on a particular action or event?
     
    Last edited:

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    When I say "little difference in meaning" I am using the idiom "little difference", which means "the difference is very small".

    To me the difference between "what people say" and "what people are saying" is something like this:

    "what people are saying" = ongoing conversations around you.

    "what people say" = specific conversations, such as when someone speaks to you.
     

    Vsevolod

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Uh-um, so does it mean I can safely change:
    "what people are saying" for "what people say";
    "if you're listening to it"
    for "if you listen to it"
    "If you’re listening to something with a lot of angry bass"
    to "If you listen to something with a lot of angry bass"
    "As you’re enjoying the story, you’re learning..."
    for "As you enjoy the story, you’re learning..." or "As you’re enjoying the story, you learn..." or even "As you enjoy the story, you learn..."
    ...with no change in the meaning?
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    No. There is a difference in meaning. In some sentences, swapping them makes no big difference in meaning. For those sentence, use either one. In other sentences, there will be a larger difference.

    But the two verb forms do not say the same thing. You will learn to understand the difference, over time.give you.You may find an article on the internet, written by a grammar teacher, that explains it in detail and clearly, something I can't do.
     
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    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    In the example sentences, "if" means "when". They aren't really conditional sentences.

    If/when you’re listening to something with a lot of angry bass, it tastes more bitter.

    In this kind of sentence, the present continuous form sounds more immediate or vivid: the "slow-motion" feel of the present continuous invites you to mentally put yourself in that position right now - to imagine yourself listening to that kind of music.
     
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