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A few contexts with Continuous and Simple Options
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2018 10:13:16 AM

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1) Which one is better Continuous or Simple?

I don't work tomorrow because tomorrow is my day-off.
I am not working tomorrow because tomorrow is my day-off.

2) When do you meet Tom tomorrow?
When are you meeting Tom tomorrow?

3) I don't work today. I am on holiday.
I am not working today. I am on holiday.
thar
Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2018 10:21:56 AM

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Ivan Fadeev wrote:
1) Which one is better Continuous or Simple?

I don't work tomorrow because tomorrow is my day-off.
I am not working tomorrow because tomorrow is my day-off.

2) When do you meet Tom tomorrow?
When are you meeting Tom tomorrow?

3) I don't work today. I am on holiday.
I am not working today. I am on holiday.



My BrE. Dialects may vary.
1
simple - no
Present simple is about habit, so these don't work for a single instance.
eg
I don't work Fridays so I am off tomorrow.
If you never work tomorrow.... I think that that is Lewis Carroll territory. (Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never jam today).
I suppose you could have 'I don't work tomorrow' because tomorrow is a Friday and I never work Fridays - but that is still the habit, not the future.

progressive - yes, future intention, plan
I am not working tomorrow
Ie either I never do on Fridays, or tomorrow is an exception and I am taking the day off.

2
simple - OK
Present simple for a fixed, inevitable plan.
eg
The sun rises tommorrow at 6:35am.
I meet Tom at six tomorrow so I'll have to leave at five.
But that is a fixed, timetabled event.

progressive - much more likely
If you are just meeting a friend, then it is progressive for future plans. But also works for a business meeting
I am meeting Tom at six tommorrow.

3
simple - no
No, because 'don't work' would be a habit. If you 'don't work today' as a continuous habit, then you never work!

progressive - yes
I'm not working today - that is progressive showing what is happening right now.

edited
it is hard to give absolutes. But not useful to say 'it depends on context'. So these are snapshot opinions.

Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2018 10:28:42 AM

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Joined: 2/21/2015
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I see. One thing to elaborate.
Why can't we apply "a fixed, inevitable plan" to examples 1 and 3?

1)I don't work tomorrow because tomorrow is my day-off. (a fixed plan)

3) I don't work today. I am on holiday. (an inevitable situation)

Just trying to understand.

Thank you for the prompt response.


thar
Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2018 10:37:10 AM

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Because that is an action not an event.

I am not working tomorrow.
I meet the boss at three so I have to be in for that.

The present simple for future events is very limited, and rarely used.
It is used for something that is perceived as immutable. Possibly out of your control, or something you perceive as a fixed point because it would be very damaging to change it. And an event, not a continuous activity.


The boat leaves on Saturday.
I meet the new owners tomorrow.

But not
I work tomorrow.
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2018 10:40:44 AM

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By the way, I know that PS is about a habitual actions. But sometimes it can be used within a very short period of time. I heard this in a cartoon.

One guy was trying to fix a robot and he wasn't getting on well with it. He shouted to his friend.
"Nothing I try is working"

He was trying virtually for 30 seconds in the cartoon. I don't think that 3- seconds is enough for an action to become habitual. I am talking about his TRYING. It puzzles to some extent.
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2018 10:48:38 AM

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It is an interesting concept of action versus event. But I can't firmly grasp it because every event can't be itself without an action, as well as, every action can be considered an event. It's hard for me to separate them.
thar
Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2018 10:56:17 AM

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This is not going to be a simple thing to learn.
Either you luck out and find a good resource that really explains the nuances (maybe someone here has it all worked out) - or you just learn from examples like the poor natives have to. Whistle

Forming the future is very funny in English.
Levels of intent, planning, certainty, all play much more of a part in it than the actual timing. That makes it very flexible and very hard to pin down as absolutes.

edit
but the good thing is, the other will not be wrong
The boat leaves on Saturday
The boat is leaving on Saturday
The boat will leave on Saturday


except
The boat shall leave on Saturday
does mean something else - it means you are a fairy godmother waving your magic wand to make it happen.
That is the fun part, yes No? :)
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2018 11:56:30 AM

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Hi Ivan.

You are right - the future hasn't arrived yet so it all depends on your considerations anyway.

If you consider that not working tomorrow is a foregone conclusion (it's obvious, cannot be doubted due to the nature of the physical universe) then "I don't work tomorrow" is natural.

In the old days, when people naturally worked Monday to Friday only - when it was 'a thing of wonder' that someone might work over the weekend - the statement "I don't work tomorrow, it's Saturday" would be quite natural. It's not what you'd really call a habit, but it is routine, expected, preordained.

"I'm not working tomorrow" is a statement of fact, but requires an explanation to be really complete.
"I'm not working tomorrow, I've taken the day off as it's my daughter's birthday."
It's not routine, it's something which has been specially arranged.

*****************
If you consider 30 seconds to be enough time to try every possible solution, then "Nothing I try is working" is totally natural and 'logical'. It has become routine - try something and fail - try something and fail - try something and fail.
However, it does indicate a sort of manic lack of persistence.

If you consider 30 seconds is not even really long enough to decide that one possible solution is not working, then "Nothing I try is working" sounds strange.

************
As thar notes, there are nuances. It's not (for me) difficult to decide which form to use - but it's very difficult to explain.

I would say that the future use is slightly differently explained than the timeless form.
"I live in Scotland" is timeless - it applies to past, present and future equally. It covers physical laws ("The sun rises in the west") and habit "I get up at eight-o'-clock.")

In the future usage, there's no rule saying "If -=-=-=- then it's the simple form; if ~~~~~~~ then it's the progressive form."
(NOTE - I just call it the simple form, as it can be used for past, present and future. It's not a "present tense" really - though it has been called that.)

The nearest I can give is the several things I said above.
It's not only habit - it is inevitability - that's just the way things are, there's no doubt about it.
Though it may be inevitable because it is so habitual.

"routine, expected, preordained, obvious, cannot be doubted due to the nature of the physical universe, inevitable" - these all call for the simple form.

I hope that helps some.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2018 12:11:09 PM

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As an aside - That really IS my interpretation of "The boat shall leave on Saturday."

As I was growing up (a long time ago now), the only times we heard "shall" were in various prayers which we didn't understand really and in the phrase "You shall go the ball, Cinderella!" said by the fairy godmother as she waved a magic wand.
(I believe this story is similar to two Russian ones - "Vasilisa and Baba Yaga" and "Zolushka".)
RuthP
Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2018 12:29:01 PM

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thar wrote:
Ivan Fadeev wrote:
1) Which one is better Continuous or Simple?

I don't work tomorrow because tomorrow is my day-off.
I am not working tomorrow because tomorrow is my day-off.

2) When do you meet Tom tomorrow?
When are you meeting Tom tomorrow?

3) I don't work today. I am on holiday.
I am not working today. I am on holiday.


Ooh, let's mix it up. I'm an AE speaker.
My BrE. Dialects may vary.
1
simple - no
Present simple is about habit, so these don't work for a single instance.
eg
I don't work Fridays so I am off tomorrow.
If you never work tomorrow.... I think that that is Lewis Carroll territory. (Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never jam today).
I suppose you could have 'I don't work tomorrow' because tomorrow is a Friday and I never work Fridays - but that is still the habit, not the future.

progressive - yes, future intention, plan
I am not working tomorrow
Ie either I never do on Fridays, or tomorrow is an exception and I am taking the day off.

AE: If I am always off on Fridays, as thar says, simple would be used. For the other alternative (I just happen to have this Friday off) either one might be used.

I will also note that the sentence would not use "tomorrow" twice in either case. It would be said "I (don't work)/(am not working) tomorrow, because it's my day off.


2
simple - OK
Present simple for a fixed, inevitable plan.
eg
The sun rises tommorrow at 6:35am.
I meet Tom at six tomorrow so I'll have to leave at five.
But that is a fixed, timetabled event.

progressive - much more likely
If you are just meeting a friend, then it is progressive for future plans. But also works for a business meeting
I am meeting Tom at six tommorrow.

AE: For asking the question, the progressive tense is much more likely. I would go so far as to say it is fairly unlikely someone would use simple tense to ask the questions. It is not wrong, and it will be used occasionally, but not commonly.

As far as answering the question goes, AE apparently agrees with BE here.Whistle


3
simple - no
No, because 'don't work' would be a habit. If you 'don't work today' as a continuous habit, then you never work!

progressive - yes
I'm not working today - that is progressive showing what is happening right now.
AE: Here, there is a bit of disagreement. AE is losing the "habitual occurrence" distinction. While progressive tense will often be used, this would be quite as common:

"Will you please pick up some milk on your way home from work, today?"
"I don't work today. I'm on vacation."

In the US we take a vacation, rather than go on holiday. You might hear someone say "I'm taking Labor Day as a holiday." This means the worker has the holiday day of Labor Day (first Monday in September) off work. Someone will be working, but this worker is not. "Holiday" is used to refer to a recognized holiday. There are a lot of them in the US, but most work places observe Christmas, New Year, Thanksgiving (the big three), and Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day (the small three).


edited
it is hard to give absolutes. But not useful to say 'it depends on context'. So these are snapshot opinions.

Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2018 2:48:00 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/21/2015
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Thanks a lot, DragONSpeaker, RuthP and Thar! Большое спасибо!
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, September 21, 2018 3:29:00 AM

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Joined: 9/12/2011
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
не за что.
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Thursday, April 8, 2021 7:20:45 AM

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Joined: 2/21/2015
Posts: 1,253
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Drag0nspeaker hi!

This is OK. Nothing I try is working

What difference would there be if I said:

Nothing I try works.
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