The English progressive is difficult

Damian   Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 15:18 GMT
<<By the way, I'm female>>


I think that means you're supposed to put the toilet seat back down again, mate! ;-)
Mi5 Mick   Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 15:28 GMT
But make sure to leave your evidence intact for the next user :)
Sanja   Thursday, September 16, 2004, 09:50 GMT
I said that because he couldn't tell from my name if I am male or female.
Eric   Friday, September 17, 2004, 18:32 GMT
It might be worth noting that the conjugation of a verb according to number when the subject is a collective noun like 'family' is not consistent across English dialects. In fact, it's horribly inconsistent.

As a native speaker of Midwestern American English, I would neither write, nor say, "The team are arguing..." or "The family are happy to announce..." under any circumstance. Absolutely not. Reading those sentences struck me as quite odd. Saying them aloud sounds worse so.

This is not a matter of subjective opinion. In 1979 Stig Johansson tested about a hundred each native English speakers in Britain and the US, telling them that foreign learners had produced some sentences, and asking them to check if they needed any correction. In 1988 Laurie Bauer repeated the study in New Zealand. In a sentence such as "The audience were enjoying every minute of the show," 77% of British and New Zealand speakers felt it was correct, but only 5% of Americans felt so. 90% of Americans corrected the sentence to, "The audience was enjoying every minute of the show." The rest noted an error, but did not correct it.
Eric   Friday, September 17, 2004, 18:33 GMT
Correction, that should be: 77% of British speakers and 73% of New Zealand speakers.
ant222   Friday, September 17, 2004, 19:40 GMT
«The rest noted an error, but did not correct it.» (Eric)
How could it be? Why didn't they corrected the error in spite of the fact that they found it?

Sanja   Sunday, September 19, 2004, 15:00 GMT
I would also feel that sentence was incorrect. I guess my perception of English is more American than British, because that's what I hear on TV every day. But my writing is much closer to British, because that's what I was taught in school.
Mxsmanic   Sunday, September 19, 2004, 19:56 GMT
Choose the conjugation based on what's in your head. If you think of a family as being a group of people, use the plural form; if you think of a family as being a unit, use the singular form. As long as the form you use matches your understanding and intent, it's correct.   Sunday, September 26, 2004, 08:48 GMT
while writing I cannot understand whether it is direct or indirect or active or passive voice. How I should know that I am writing correct english?
Mxsmanic   Sunday, September 26, 2004, 15:04 GMT
Practice. Worry less about the formal analysis of what you say or write, and more about what it actually means, and whether or not that corresponds to what you want to express.

Ultimately you will learn to write and speak based on what seems "natural," just as you already do in your native language. It certainly helps to look at grammar and other formal rules, but in the final analysis you won't be fluent until you can do everything automatically, just as native speakers do.

Note that it's okay to not be able to explain why you use a particular construction in English, as long as it's right. So if you say something a certain way because it "looks right," and native speakers agree, then that's all you need—you don't have to care about _why_ it's right. The main reason for studying grammar is to help you get to this point; it doesn't _take the place_ of getting to this point, though.
Ant_222   Sunday, September 26, 2004, 18:55 GMT
Passive voice is when an action is done with an object by another object.

Example: "The letter is written with humor." The letter itself does nothing, therefore, it is passive.

"The man wrote a letter." The man is doing something. He is active, so it is active voice.

Active voice is when something or somebody acts on somthing.
Passive voice is when somthing is being acted on: "The paper is read by the man".

All this applies to the subject, the word to each the predicate belongs.

You may have troubles with understanding my explanation because I used active and passive voices it it ;)

Ant_222   Sunday, September 26, 2004, 19:14 GMT
Direct and indirect speech.

Direct speech is the speech (or thoughts) of the subject of the sentence:

«Mxsmanic said, "Practice". »

Indirect speech is when the subject of the sentence tells about another's man words (or thoughts, actions... ): "Mxsmanic said that dua_dwarka2002 should practise more".

Notice that in certain cases in indirect speech tenses are shifted relative to those in direct speech. That is the so-called Sequence of tenses.

Adam   Wednesday, September 29, 2004, 11:53 GMT
"I just reread that. The second sentence is awkward. I meant to stay that in Spanish simple tenses are used for continuing actions (supposedly) in situations where progressive tenses would be used in English."

It's the same in French. When we say "I am going to town", they say "Je vais en ville", which means literally "I go to town", but is usually translated as "I am going to town."
Easterner   Saturday, October 02, 2004, 12:09 GMT
For some actions, you can also use the "en train de'" construction in French, e.g.: "Je suis en train de parler avec mon amie" ("I'm just talking to my girlfriend"). In Italian you can use "stare" with present participle: "Sto a parlare" = "I'm speaking". In Spanish, this will be "estoy hablando". So the progressive is not unique to English.
Easterner   Saturday, October 02, 2004, 12:13 GMT
Sorry, infinitive, not present participle.