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present progressive
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Member
Posts: 174
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Hello,

I found the following sentences in a recent TIME magazine article on the most popular birthday month.
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No matter which data set you look at, September is a popular time to give birth. The newer data shows that 9 of the top 10 days to give birth fall between Sept. 9 and Sept. 20. Given that pregnancies last an average of about 38 weeks, this means many people are conceiving in December, around the holidays.
***********

Why do they use a present progressive form "many people are conceiving" instead of a simple present "many people conceive" ?

I thought "be doing" indicates an action being done at this moment not a habitual behavior that is done on a regular basis. In this TIME article, is there a particular reason the author used present progressive?

***************
This likely suggests parents are planning their children’s births, Stiles notes on his site, or that doctors take vacations and try to schedule births on non-holidays.
***************
In the part above, parents are planning, but doctors take vacations. Different tenses are used. Why?

Yoko

This message has been edited. Last edited by: yoko,
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"many people are conceiving in December":

I don't think you realise that your version, "many people are conceived in December" completely changes the meaning".
Look at it this way:
Many mothers are conceiving in December.
compare
Many mothers are conceived in December. (???)
OR, reversing it:
Many babies are conceived in December.
Many babies are conceiving in December.(!!!!)
.......
Present Tense states a fact that the speaker asserts is true.
Present Progressive Tense is an action that is temporary, that starts, progresses, and has a foreseeable end.
are planning : let's have a/another child > repeated coitus> trying to conceive and ends when the woman is pregnant.
take vacations : is a fact. We all do. We did in previous years, this year, and in the years to come; and the only foreseeable end is when bad health or death precludes!

...|C|<...are conceiving...>|P|.......
C= coitus intended to impregnate
continues until..
P= pregnant. ACTION ENDS
........take vacations.........
No 'time boundaries': a beginning and an end are irrelevant.
"My car is a Mazda." fact
The idea of asking 'when did it start being a Mazda, and when will it stop being a Mazda' seems crazy. Yet that is exactly what we can say about an ongoing Progressive tense action: when did the action start, when will it end?

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Bazza,
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Location: Santa Cruz, California, US
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Bazza:
quote:
I don't think you realise that your version, "many people are conceived in December" completely changes the meaning".
I don't think you realize that you're making this up. The phrase that you call Yoko's version does not occur in Yoko's post at all.

I do see that Yoko's post was edited by the author since it was first posted, but that was nearly five hours prior to your response. So even if Yoko originally said that, you have no excuse for making reference to it five hours later.
David, Co-moderator
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Location: Sacramento, California
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quote:
Given that pregnancies last an average of about 38 weeks, this means many people are conceiving in December, around the holidays.
***********

Why do they use a present progressive form "many people are conceiving" instead of a simple present "many people conceive" ?
Hello, Yoko,

The present progressive doesn't always indicate that a present action is in progress. It can, as here, refer to the present existence of a habit or behavioral pattern. Compare:
  • Studies have shown that fewer teenagers are experimenting with smoking cigarettes.
That doesn't mean that studies have shown something about what some teenagers are doing at the moment of speech. It's commenting on the decreased prevalence of a behavioral pattern.

Coitus aside, the sentence in question interprets the fact that a lot of births are occurring in a certain date range as meaning that a lot of women are being impregnated 9 months earlier.
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Thank you, DocV, for supporting me in my first posting where I didn't say "many women are conceived".

Thank you David.
I see. The present progressive sometimes indicate a certain tendency that is going on as a trend. The subject is likely plural such as "today's teenagers" not singular such as " my sister".

Yoko
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Location: Santa Cruz, California, US
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You're welcome, Yoko, but really I should be apologizing to you for allowing my annoyance to cause me to focus on berating that other person while leaving your question unanswered.

Thank you, David, for stepping in and providing what Yoko asked for in the first place.
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