Both the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (CGEL) by Pullum and Oxford Modern English Grammar (OMEG) by Aarts clearly say that the progressive futurate (i.e., the present progressive indicating a future event as in I'm leaving next week) does not have an aspectual meaning to it.

OMEG on page 270 says:

It is important to be aware of the fact that [the progressive futurate] is not aspectual, that is, the situation is not regarded as unfolding over time.

What exactly does this mean?

I'm leaving next week.

The basic meaning of the progressive aspect is to present the situation as being in progress, as in The kids are watching TV where the "watching" is in progress and, in this case, there is no determinate endpoint.

But there are certain cases where clauses with progressive form do not have the usual "in progress" meaning.

Since English has no future tense, other ways have to be found to express the future. One of these ways is called the "progressive futurate", which entails the use of the progressive form where the meaning is not aspectual.

In your example, the progressive am leaving is not aspectual -- there is no duration -- it doesn't mean that my leaving will somehow be in progress over some period of time, as in the "watching TV" example, but simply that I intend to leave next week.



BillJIn your example, the progressive am leaving is not aspectual -- there is no duration -- it doesn't mean that my leaving will somehow be in progress over some period of time, as in the "watching TV" example, but simply that I intend to leave next week.

But some native speakers tell me that when they say "I'm leaving next week", they're imagining the future wherein the act of leaving is taking place, which I take to mean that the progressive futurate is still aspectual. Do you then disagree with them?

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JungKimBut some native speakers tell me that when they say "I'm leaving next week", they're imagining the future wherein the act of leaving is taking place, which I take to mean that the progressive futurate is still aspectual. Do you then disagree with them

As I explained, the 'progressive futurate' is not aspectual. It is just a special use of the progressive form to express a future act.

BillJIn your example, the progressive am leaving is not aspectual -- there is no duration -- it doesn't mean that my leaving will somehow be in progress over some period of time, as in the "watching TV" example, but simply that I intend to leave next week.

Let me ask you this then.

As you said, there is no duration during which the speaker's act of leaving is in progress. But if I had to find a duration during which something is in progress in I'm leaving next week, the duration could be from the moment when the speaker formed an intention of -- or made an arrangement for -- leaving next week, until the moment of the speaker actually leaving. Although this duration still wouldn't make the progressive futurate aspectual in its normal sense, I think that perhaps the very existence of such a duration might help explain why the progressive form is used. What do you think?

JungKim
BillJIn your example, the progressive am leaving is not aspectual -- there is no duration -- it doesn't mean that my leaving will somehow be in progress over some period of time, as in the "watching TV" example, but simply that I intend to leave next week.

Let me ask you this then.

As you said, there is no duration during which the speaker's act of leaving is in progress. But if I had to find a duration during which something is in progress in I'm leaving next week, the duration could be from the moment when the speaker formed an intention of -- or made an arrangement for -- leaving next week, until the moment of the speaker actually leaving. Although this duration still wouldn't make the progressive futurate aspectual in its normal sense, I think that perhaps the very existence of such a duration might help explain why the progressive form is used. What do you think?

I've explained it to you and you've read it in two of the best grammar books available today.

The progressive future is not aspectual.

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BillJThe progressive future is not aspectual.

No, it isn't. And I'm not doubting it.

What I'm asking is whether the reasoning set forth in my previous post makes sense to you.

JungKim
BillJThe progressive future is not aspectual.

No, it isn't. And I'm not doubting it.

What I'm asking is whether the reasoning set forth in my previous post makes sense to you.

I understand what you're saying. But it is not the duration of my intention (or thinking) that we're concerned about here, but some future event; in this case the single non-progressive act of "my leaving" next week.

As I said, the meaning is simply that I intend to leave next week.

Compare I am thinking of leaving next week where a case could be made for an "in progress" meaning, and thus progressive aspect.

BillJBut it is not the duration of my intention (or thinking) that we're concerned about here, but some future event; in this case the single non-progressive act of "my leaving" next week.

That I do understand.

BillJAs I said, the meaning is simply that I intend to leave next week.

Or that I have made arrangements for my leaving next week, whichever suits the context.

Now, I'd like to know how the progressive form, when used to refer to a future event, has this meaning. The only possible explanation I can think of is that somehow the speaker visualizes the act of "leaving next week" starting right after they form an intention of, or make an arrangement for, the act, because their forming such an intention or making such an arrangement makes them feel as if the act itself is already in progress.


If there's any other explanation, I'd like to know but so far I've failed to find any such explanation in any grammar.

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