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Dr Grammar

To + be + V+ing

Posted by Bouncing Bee   27 Aug 2014 12 43 pm

Dear Doctor Grammar,

I would be grateful if you could tell me whether the words “to be hanging” in the following sentence can change to “to have been hanging”.

“He was observed by two plainclothes police officers to be hanging around at the bus route board in the Airport Passenger Area which formed part of the Bylaw Area.”

Many thanks.

Bouncing Bee


Posted by alex stringer   28 Aug 2014 10 39 am

Good morning Bee

The structures found / seen / believed etc. to be doing sthg / to have done sthg / to have been doing sthg show situations that were either

(1) ongoing (to be doing sthg) at the time the action (found / seen / believed etc.) took place, or
(2) complete (to have done sthg) at the time the action took place, or
(3) had continued or been repeated (to have been doing sthg) up until the time the action took place.

The difference between (2) and (3) is often only a matter of emphasis. In your example did the officers simply observe the person at that time (and had no idea how long he had been hanging around), or were they aware that the action (hanging around) had been going on for some time up until that point?

Hope this helps

Dr G
Posted by Bouncing Bee   29 Aug 2014 3 43 pm

Dear Dr Grammar,

Thanks for your teaching. Your illustration is very clear.

Many thanks,

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