Kailin
"be being done" v "be done" I am confused about the present continuous tense and the present simple tense in the usage of passive voice. I learned that the present simple tense is used when you do sth regularly or just refer to a general fact, while the present continous refers to that you are doing sth right now or sth is happening nowadays. But I still don't quite get it sometimes. Could you explain the differences in the following examples? What the different tenses are emphasizing or suggesting? For example: 1."I think you are smoking too much, nowadays" vs "I think you smoke too much, nowadays" 2."A trade agreement was signed, and this is being seen as a major breakthrough in diplomacy between the two countries." vs "...this is seen/has been seen as a major breakthrough..."(I guess "has been seen" sounds better in the latter sentence? Is "this is seen" fine too?) 3."The new phone is being dubbed as the iPhone killer." vs “The new phone is dubbed as the iPhone killer.” Thanks a lot!
Feb 4, 2016 3:11 AM
Answers · 9
(A) "I think you are smoking too much, nowadays" (B) "I think you smoke too much, nowadays" --- (A): This implies the situation is temporary, perhaps "you" started smoking recently or are expected to stop soon? --- (B): Simply stating a fact. Compare: "I live with my mother. I've always lived with her and I always will." vs. "I'm living with my mother. I'll get my own apartment in a couple weeks, though." NOTE: In this context, the difference is really small, and the sentences are interchangeable. You may also say "I think you've been smoking", which to me sounds a more natural. A: "A trade agreement was signed, and this is being seen as a major breakthrough in diplomacy between the two countries." B: "...this is seen/has been seen as a major breakthrough..." --- (A) This sentence describes the current views being discussed at the moment. You might use (A) if you're discussing recent meetings, press conferences, interviews, etc. about the trade agreement, since there's such a strong emphasis on the present time. --- (B) Neither of these tenses have as strong a reference to the present. Present simple: quite neutral Present perfect: emphasis that the trade agreement has had an effect on the present. Both are correct, but I prefer present perfect stylistically. Consider: "What did you do?" vs. "What have you done?", the second sentence implies you did something really important (out of context like this, it looks like you have done something really bad!) "The new phone is being dubbed as the iPhone killer." “The new phone is dubbed as the iPhone killer.” ---Similar to the second pair of sentences - the first sentence talks about the attitudes of today/these days, the second sentence just states a fact. I hope this helps, I'm not sure what was confusing about the passive voice in these sentences, perhaps I misunderstood your question?
February 4, 2016
I am not a grammar expert and I would suggest getting a second opinion, but I've provided some comments that might help... 1."I think you are smoking too much, nowadays" - This would be what you might say to someone that is coughing right now and smoking. "I think you smoke too much, nowadays" - This is more general. You could say this to anyone that smokes too much. By using "nowadays" though, you are implying that they regularly smoke more now than they did in the past (recent past or years past). 2."A trade agreement was signed, and this is being seen as a major breakthrough in diplomacy between the two countries." vs "...this is seen/has been seen as a major breakthrough..."(I guess "has been seen" sounds better in the latter sentence? Is "this is seen" fine too?) These are very similar, but they imply some subtle differences in opinion or perception. The first is expressing some desire for it to be a major breakthrough, but it isn't really proven over any period of time. The second example implies that "experts" or officials have confirmed that it is a breakthrough and that there has been some success because of the trade agreement. But, someone else may see the differences as meaning something a little different... 3."The new phone is being dubbed as the iPhone killer." vs “The new phone is dubbed as the iPhone killer.” Again, very subtle differences, but I would suggest that the first sentence implies that it has proven to be an iPhone killer and that the second sentence implies that someone "wants" it to be an iPhone killer (even though it might not be one yet).
February 4, 2016
Thank you again James! I didn't notice that the "as" is superfluous.
February 5, 2016
Thank you Ryan! It is helpful:D
February 5, 2016
It looks like you have had feedback on most of your questions, so I won't address them comprehensively, but I thought it might be useful to make a couple of additional points. On (2), your three alternatives are passive constructions in continuous present, simple present and perfect tenses respectively. They are all possible. As to which "sounds best", it really depends on what the context is and what you are trying to imply. Frankly, I think using the passive here in any tense doesn't sound as good as an active construction would, but then the author would have to come clean about who is doing the seeing. And if we knew that, then we would have a better idea of what tense to use. (I rather suspect the author is doing the seeing, but doesn't want to own up to it, but in that case, present tense would be appropriate.) On (3), note that "dub" takes a double object (as in "I dub thee knight"), so the "as" is superfluous. That word in the context you have it is actually rather jargony in a marketing/journalese sort of way, and "called" would be a more straightforward way to say it.
February 4, 2016
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Kailin
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, Korean, Spanish
Learning Language
English, French, Korean, Spanish