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Hi,

Take a look at the following sentence:

This use of language gives meaning to individual liives and to all kinds of social realities, but the use of language can take many different forms, because people in their daily lives are drawing on intellectual history even when they don't realize it. People are using ideas about reality to give structure about the reality itself.

I don't get it... sometimes the guy uses (or IS USING?) the present simple and sometimes the present continuous... It's so frustraiting! It makes me stop and think every single time when I try (or WHEN I'M TRYING?) to utter a single sentece. Help...

Thanks,

PS. The guy is a professor from the US.
Comments  
anglista2008It's so frustraiting! It makes me stop and think every single time when I try (or WHEN I'M TRYING?) to utter a single sentece.
Hi. Don't worry that much about it. He may have used it because of irritation or annoyance of the situation he was describing.
so basically... would you rather say: sometimes the guy uses VS is using and It makes me stop and think every single time when I try VS I'm trying ?

on the one hand, I might say that I'm irritated by some fact... like in: oh, he's sometimes using this and sometimes that, why can't he decide!? but on the other hand, I think that sometimes is not used with the present continues and I'd have to say "he's forever using..." or "he's always uisng..." or "he's continiously..."

but as far as try vs trying is concerned I have no idea whatsoever
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anglista2008 sometimes the guy is using and It makes me stop and think every single time when I try/am trying.

Once again. He could have used Progressive tense because:
1) He may have been irritated. Continious tense may be used when person is being irritated by something.
2) He wanted to emphasize when he was trying (which happened not so often or as a temporary event) and it stopped him.
3) He may have used it because he thought it was a temporary event and eventually he would stop trying and figure out whatsover he wanted to find out.
4) Present Progressive is used when describing situations which are not very fast and take quite a long periods of time. Present Simple tense is used when events supersede each other in rather a fast tempo. It can be peculiarity of narrators, teachers, reporters and sport commentators.
anglista2008I think that sometimes is not used with the present continues and I'd have to say "he's forever using..." or "he's always using..." or "he's continuously .."
Continuously is redundant here because with Progressive tenses we imply temporality or elongation of activity. Forever is not the word that should be used with continious, it implies itself a continuous action which takes infinite period of time.

Did it help?
This use of language gives [general fact, not an activity] meaning to individual liives and to all kinds of social realities, but the use of language can take many different forms, because people in their daily lives are drawing on [specific example of the general fact conceptualized as a daily activity] intellectual history even when they don't realize it. People are using [specific example again conceptualized as an activity] ideas about reality to give structure about the reality itself.

The simple tense could have been used for the specific examples, but the continuous tense could not have been used for the statement of the general fact. The choice of continuous strikes me as a stylistic device for reducing the formality of the passage -- a way of making the passage seem more conversational. If I had written it, I probably would have used the simple tense throughout.

People are not always consistent in their use of tenses, but the reasons I gave above seem reasonable to me for the quoted excerpt.
anglista2008sometimes the guy uses (or IS USING?) the present simple and sometimes the present continuous.
anglista2008every single time when I try (or WHEN I'M TRYING?) to utter a single sentence.
Think of the -ing form as an indicator of activity. Unless you are thinking about something as an activity, most of the time you don't use -ing.

CJ
Thanks folks, but I think I still have some doubts (or should I rather say I'm still having some doubts or I'm still not getting it or I don't get it???) Look at this sentence that is uttered by an professor of European thought in the 18th and 19th c. (he's an American) This one is about Hegel's ideas.

Here's the sentence that he actually utters in the recording: Every part of history is revealing some kind of truth because every part of history is expressing some part of the evolving spirit.

and here's a sentence that is written down in the guidebook that comes along with the lecture:

History, therefore, reveals truth, because it always expresses some part of the evolving spirit;

Basically, I don't know why he's using (uses) two different tenses while speaking about the same thing.

Thanks
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People tend to mistake while being in a hurry or on one's day, feverishly narrating something.
anglista2008
Here's the sentence that he actually utters in the recording: Every part of history is revealing some kind of truth because every part of history is expressing some part of the evolving spirit.

History, therefore, reveals truth, because it always expresses some part of the evolving spirit;


Let me give you my nickel's worth of advice Emotion: smile

In my book the devil is in the use of "Every part of history" in the first sentence - that use makes all the difference. The sentence does not pass only for a general stanement but can be viewed as more, sort of a dynamic process. The author wanted to stress the idea of an activity that is going on - every part of history is doing something - revealing.

The second sentence, on the contrary, is just a general statement, that merely indicates some fact.

I guess it's hard to come to grips with the Present Simple and Continuous tenses on account of, as Jim just noted, that even natives are not consistent in their use of the two tenses
anglista2008Here's the sentence that he actually utters in the recording: Every part of history is revealing some kind of truth because every part of history is expressing some part of the evolving spirit.
Personally, I think the continuous tense sounds strange there. I wonder if this was Hegel's way of expressing it in German. It wouldn't surprise me if murky old Hegel was thinking of history as an active living being in some mystical way, and the continuous tense in English was chosen as a way of showing this viewpoint.

CJ
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