would be / used to be> on the lookout

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saadia

Senior Member
Spanish
Hi,

I would like to know if in the phrasal verb "be on the lookout", "be" is a stative verb o dynamic verb, and if I can use this phrasal verb (be on the lookout) with "would" instead "used to"; that is: "he would be on the lookout" (instead "he used to be on the lookout)

Many many thanks in advance
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Are your two questions related, saddia - in other words, are you suggesting that if the "be" in "be on the lookout" is stative, then it's not possible to say "he would be" meaning "he used to be"?
     

    saadia

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Are your two questions related, saddia - in other words, are you suggesting that if the "be" in "be on the lookout" is stative, then it's not possible to say "he would be" meaning "he used to be"?
    Hi Loob,

    In short I want to know if the phrasal verb: "be on the lookout" can use "would" instead of "used to". I know that "be" is a stative verb so it couldn't use "would" instead of "used to"; but I'm not sure if "be" in this phrasal verb become a dynamic verb.

    Thank you very much for your help
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think that, as a stative verb, "be" can't be used in a sentence like: "Every day they would be on the lookout for enemy troops.", to indicate the past habitual aspect. One can say simply: "Every day they were on the lookout ...." I don't think "to be on the lookout" is regarded as a phrasal verb, so it isn't treated as different from, say, "to be wary".

    "Would" in the sense you want is expressed in something like: "Every day they would go out on patrol" (dynamic verb).

    It occurs to me that "Every day they would be out looking for enemy troops" might work, because there is the meaning of "they would go out looking". But maybe I'm wrong about this.
     

    saadia

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Thank you Velisarius, your explanation is very thorough and helpful to me in understanding how to use "be on the lookout".
     
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