progressive present/ be going + V

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mimi2

Senior Member
vietnam vietnamese
Hi,
I know that the progressive present and “be going to + V” indicate the future intention.
Are they interchangeable in this case?
"I can’t go any further.
  • I am going to sit on that bench for a while."
  • I am sitting on that bench for a while."
Thanks.
 
  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hi,
    I know that the progressive present and “be going to + V” indicate the future intention.
    Are they interchangeable in this case?
    "I can’t go any further.
    • I am going to sit on that bench for a while."
    • I am sitting on that bench for a while."
    Thanks.
    No, that doesn't work, Mimi. "I am sitting" is strictly present tense and means that you are currently sitting. It does not mean that you will be sitting in the future. One other way to indicate the future action is:

    "I can't go any further. I will be sitting on that bench while you continue running."
     

    mimi2

    Senior Member
    vietnam vietnamese
    Thank you, Dimcl, nzfauna.
    I would like to know the progressive present that indicates the near future so I will show you another example sentence:
    "The firework display, part of the city's centenary celebration, is taking/ is going to take place on the 21st August in Cannon Park."
    Could they be interchangeable?
    Thanks.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Thank you, Dimcl, nzfauna.
    I would like to know the progressive present that indicates the near future so I will show you another example sentence:
    "The firework display, part of the city's centenary celebration, is taking/ is going to take place on the 21st August in Cannon Park."
    Could they be interchangeable?
    Thanks.
    You often hear people say "... is taking place" in this context but it's (technically) incorrect. It "will be taking place" or "is to take place" or "is going to take place".

    I hear "is taking place" used to describe a future event quite frequently. In the same vein, you might hear:

    "The fireworks display is happening on 21 August".

    This is quite commonly said but is incorrect.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "The fireworks display is happening on 21 August".
    This is quite commonly said but is incorrect.
    Dimcl, do you have any argument to support your view that the use of the 'present' tense to refer to the future is in any sense 'incorrect'? I think the usual view is the one expressed here http://www.learnenglish.org.uk/grammar/archive/present_continuous01.html: We can also use the present continuous to speak about future arrangements: I'm meeting Sue for a drink after work; What are you doing next weekend? Or the one expressed here http://www.learnenglish.org.uk/grammar/archive/futures01.html The present continuous is usually used to speak about personal arrangements, when the time and/or place have already been decided. We're meeting Jim at the pub at 6 o'clock. The taxi's picking us up at 3 o'clock.

    Mimi, I can't go any further, I am sitting on that bench for a while sounds fine and perfectly natural to me. The context (in which the speaker is presumably standing) makes it clear that the future is meant. I think that the use of the present continuous (as opposed to going to...) adds a nuance of assertiveness - the speaker is suggesting that the sitting is arranged or decided, and the speaker will brook no argument about it.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I agree with Teddy and I'm surprised at the earlier suggestions that the present continuous is strictly present in force. 'I'm working all morning and then I'm going out with friends and in the evening we are visiting my grandmother, while next month we are seeing old friends who are coming down from Scotland.' One hears this use all the time. Miss Tompion has just asked me if I'm coming shopping with her and I've just replied that I'm sitting at my computer all morning doing a little light Word Referencing.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I don't dispute the amazing ability of the present continuous to refer to action in the future, but looking back to the original example, I think it would be really odd to say:
    "I can’t go any further. I'm sitting on that bench for a while."

    The problem is partly the tense, but mostly the combination of present continuous with the use of that in referring to the bench.
    The incongruity of saying that I am sitting on something that is so evidently somewhere else is the problem. Change that to this and the sentence is grand.
    "I can’t go any further. I'm sitting on this bench for a while."
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't dispute the amazing ability of the present continuous to refer to action in the future, but looking back to the original example, I think it would be really odd to say:
    "I can’t go any further. I'm sitting on that bench for a while."

    The problem is partly the tense, but mostly the combination of present continuous with the use of that in referring to the bench.
    The incongruity of saying that I am sitting on something that is so evidently somewhere else is the problem. Change that to this and the sentence is grand.
    "I can’t go any further. I'm sitting on this bench for a while."
    I've tried this one all day without success.

    See if this helps: are we all agreed that we could say I'm not sitting on that bench - a robust refusal to comply with a suggestion? I can plenty of examples of this, or something very like it, all over the web, and would regard the form as entirely idiomatic and current in BE.

    If we can say I'm not sitting on that bench to mean I will not sit on that bench, can we really not say I'm sitting on that bench for a while to mean I damn well will sit on that bench for a while? I can see nothing strange in that at all.

    Would you argue that this emphatic future force is acceptable but a less emphatic one not?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I agree that it is possible to construct a context in which I am sitting on that bench is acceptable, indeed good idiomatic English, as expressed vividly in I damn well will sit on that bench for a while.
    But in the context we have been given, that strength of sentiment seems out of place.
    Of course that could be contamination from the gentle first option, I am going to sit ...
    Hmmmm
    Suppose the lines we're talking about were to arise at the end of a minor altercation.
    A insists on keeping going.
    B insists he needs a rest.
    A insists.
    B insists
    A offers B chocolate if he keeps walking.
    B: I can't go any further, I'm sitting on that bench for a while. You can stuff your chocolate.
    Given a situation like that the sentence seems entirely natural.

    I hope your trying it out all day didn't involve walking through the park practising the sentences out loud in various permutations of emphasis and stress :)
     
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