Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Progressively tense

I'm not a Fox News basher, but one thing Fox does on radio irritates the heck out of me. It broadcasts most of its news in the progressive tense. So we get, "The president meeting with Tony Blair" rather than "The president met with Tony Blair" or "The president is meeting with Tony Blair" or "The president will meet with Tony Blair," any of which would be more precise than the vague progressive. But then, the motto is "fair and balanced," not "accurate and precise."

I advise my English students to avoid the progressive tense because it is unclear and wordy. I sometimes point out to them, and I always point out to my German students, that German has no progressive tense at all -- and nobody ever misses it.

Now Fox is pounding the progressive tense into their impressionable heads, for no other reason, I suppose, than that the past tense sounds so, well, past. Fox, I can forgive you for Bill O'Reilly, but not for this.

1 comment:

Dave Rye said...

Oh, are you right, David! I thought I was the only person in town annoyed by that style of writing. Nobody else has ever mentioned it. If *I* mention it, I get a "Who cares?" facial expression from the person listening to my diatribe. I know why Fox does it: it sounds so "now" as opposed to "then." I still hate it. The purist in me screams that a sentence that uses a participle in place of a verb isn't really a sentence.