The missing past progressive

hw gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Oct 25 05:30:57 UTC 2013

And what about "has not been monitoring[, ever]," as opposed to "was not
monitoring [by mere happenstance, at the time that you broke nasty on us
about it]"?

On Fri, Oct 25, 2013 at 12:16 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      The missing past progressive
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On the Daily Show tonight, Jon Stewart begins with a clip of White House
> Press Secretary Jay Carney responding to Angela Merkel’s demand that the
> U.S. stop tapping her phone:
> ‘The President assured the Chancellor that the United States is not
> monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the Chancellor”’
> Then Stewart touches one finger and notes: “is not monitoring”, touches
> second finger and notes: “will not monitor”, and observes "I think you’re
> missing a tense there.  You got your present progressive there, and you got
> your simple future, but you’re missing your past progressive, a.k.a. the
> 'We were not'.   Where’s your past progressive, Jay Carney?"  ("Brought to
> you by…GRAMMAR", Stewart goes on.)
> Shades of Clinton's "There is no relationship", which he later pointed out
> was strictly true, "depending on the meaning of the word 'is'".
> Ben, is Linguist List posting on Carney's missing past?
> LH
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list