Learning English verb forms
Video fun with the progressive
- Published: 12/01/2013 at 08:25 AM
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How does the meaning change when you add the verb "to be + ing" to a verb, i.e., you make it "progressive"? It is a bit hard to explain, but it is easy to understand with video examples.
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Video fun with the progressive
How does the meaning change when you add the verb "to be + ing" to a verb, i.e., you make it "progressive"? It's a bit hard to explain, but its easy to understand with video examples.
In my book “Understanding English verb forms”, I explain how English speakers use the progressive forms (to be + --ing) to add meaning to the basic concept of the verb.
By adding “to be + ing” to a verb they are telling us that:
(1) An event or situation happens over a period of time, not an instant.
(2) An event or situation is somehow not fully complete at the time of speaking.
(3) The speaker feels that the event or situation is temporary (ชั่วคราว), not permanent (ถาวร)
These ideas are easiest to understand from video examples. Let's give it a try.
Instant vs periods of time, complete vs incomplete
Here are two short video clips. For which one would you use “punch” (done in a instant) and which one “punching” (done over a period of time). Watch both videos below and you should understand immediately in which video a man punches another man and in which a man is punching.
The verb "slap" (ตบ) is a good one for illustrating instant actions versus those which take time. It is very easy to be YouTube videos, illustrating the difference.
For example, this nine-second clip from a very old movie starts with a single slap and then the couple involved start slapping and hitting each other non-stop.
In this equally short and very famous Monty Python clip, we can use both the verbs “slap” and “hit”. The clip is famous because a fish, not a hand, is used by the slapper.
As you watch, consider how you would use the two verbs. Which would you use to describe the first action?
a. A man is slapping another man (i.e. it takes a period of time).
b. A man slapped another man (i.e., it takes an instant of time).
Which would you use to describe the second action?
a. The man who was slapped is hitting the man who slapped him.
b. The man who was slapped hit the man who slapped him.
Slow motion allows us to turn an instant of time into a period of time. Watch the video below. Although the actual slap took an instant of time, slow motion allows us to use the progressive.
Finally, here is one more example that illustrates how we change the verb forms for periods of time and instants of time. As you watch this very short video, try to describe what you see as it happens. Notice, the opening is very easy, but at the end, things happen so fast, you can only describe them after they happen. Use the appropriate forms of these verbs: sleep, (train) slow down, fall, hit (head on seat)
A man is sleeping. The train is slowing down (events happened over a period of time). The man fell and hit his head on the seat. (The falling and hitting only took an instant).
Clapping and laughing are actions that take time, but they are not actions that you normally would do for a long time. The longer you do them, they more difficult they become. Watch.
To further understand the past simple, read the chapter in Understanding English verb forms: The past simple
You can find a full description of Understanding English verb forms here:
You can buy the book online here:
About the author
- Writer: Terry Fredrickson
Position: Education Marketing and Support Manager