'was being' vs. 'was' looked down on?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Jiung, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. Jiung Member

    Taipei, Taiwan
    Chinese, Taiwan
    Hi,

    I read the sentence from an article:

    "Ronon still felt he was being looked down on and he didn't like it."

    Why does it use "was being looked down on" instead of "was looked down on", as below:

    "Ronon still felt he was looked down on and he didn't like it."

    Thanks!

    Jiung
     
  2. moonglade

    moonglade Member

    English - American
    "Being looked down on" means it is still happening.

    "Was looked down on" means it happened in the past.
     
  3. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    "Ronon still felt he was being looked down on and he didn't like it." - at this precise past moment somebody was treating Ronon with contempt. It could be a short conversation between Ronon and that conceited person, or it could be a gesture made by the other person that insulted Ronon...

    "Ronon still felt he was looked down on and he didn't like it." - in this sentence, Ronon probably had felt bad about being looked down upon for years or months and he still felt that way - i.e. nothing had changed in the attitide towards Ronon. The simple past tense suggests an extended period of time, over which Ronon felt he was not treated right.
     
  4. bluegiraffe

    bluegiraffe Senior Member

    Nottingham, England
    English - England
    I disagree with these explanations. The phrasal verb is to look down on. I look down on him. So from his point of view, the phrasal verb is to be looked down on. He is being looked down on. He was being looked down on. He had been looked down on. He has been looked down on.

    I think it's to do with the phrasal verb, not the tense.
     
  5. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    It's to do with both the tense and the voice:

    Active voice, present:
    I look down on him.
    Passive voice, present:
    He is looked down on.
    Passive voice, simple past:
    He was looked down on.
    Passive voice, past progressive:
    He was being looked down on.

    I believe the phrasal verb is always the same, the tense and voice change.
     
  6. bluegiraffe

    bluegiraffe Senior Member

    Nottingham, England
    English - England
    Well that's just semantics. This doesn't agree with your earlier post which said that "being" was part of a verb... Which stance are you going for?
     
  7. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    In fact, I think it's syntax :)
    :confused: I did not say "being" was part of a verb, although I do think that, indeed, in this case it is the auxiliary verb "to be", which helps form the past progressive tense in passive voice.

    1. He is looked down on.
    is - the verb "to be" in present tense
    looked down on - the phrasal verb, its past participle "looked" used here because of the passive voice

    2. He was looked down on.
    was - the verb "to be" in simple past
    looked down on - stays the same

    3. He was being looked down on.
    was being - the verb "to be" in past progressive; was for past, being for the progressive aspect
    looked down on - stays the same

    As regards semantics... I simply explained that both sentences in the first post are grammatically correct but are in two different tenses, namely past simple and past progressive. That is why they can be used in different situations. In fact, I happen to agree with moonglade's explanation which, although a bit short, is accurate (or at least I understand very well what he/she means :))
     

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