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NinjaTurtle

Is "Do you study Chinese now?" okay in British English?

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NinjaTurtle

I have come across someone saying, "Do you study Chinese now?" This is a mistake in American English. But is this okay in British English?

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What’s wrong?

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柯林

The mistake is that the Chinese speaker is implying, "are you studying chinese", but the way they phrase it mistakenly suggests, "are you studying at this very moment"

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NinjaTurtle

I would say that, in American grammar, the sentence is a mistake. We should say, "Are you studying Chinese now?" or "Do you study Chinese?"

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柯林

For some reason I cannot edit my post (maybe because Im a new member). 

 

Anyways, if I were to correct it, I would write it as, "Are you studying Chinese (right) now?"

 

The sentence does seem off with the "do" verb.

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889

That may be more colloquial, but where's the grammar mistake in the other phrasing?

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NinjaTurtle
10 minutes ago, 889 said:

where's the grammar mistake in the other phrasing?

 

I see the "Do you...now?" as a grammatical mistake in this situation. I feel the same for the example, "Do you study Chinese just now?"

 

I would say, "Do you want to go now?" is correct but "Do you go now?" is not.

 

Does everyone agree my example is fine in British English (and Canadian English, if there are such differences)?

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889

"What are all those Mao posters doing in your room? Do you study Chinese now? You tried Spanish and gave it up. Then French. And let's not forget all the time you spent with those Arabic textbooks. Face it, maybe you're just not cut out for language study."

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NinjaTurtle

889,

 

That is an interesting example. But it seems to have a particular connotation. Let me think about that one.

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roddy

I’d find that usage in 889’s example slightly jarring (or at least I think I would). I can just about imagine a situation where it isn’t a rhetorical question and it might sound okay, but... not convinced. I’d file under “possibly could, probably wouldn’t” and advise against. 
 

Although, if your emphasis is on establishing facts? But unless we’re C1/2 level, tell ‘em it’s “To describe an action that is taking place now but not at the exact moment of speech” and that means -ing. 

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NinjaTurtle

Roddy,

 

Thanks for that example. I will add that to the pondering I am now doing. (I like the idea of 'jarring'.)

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rumapa

I'm not a native speaker of either American or British English, but I think "now" here means "now that the situation is as it is", rather than "at the moment" or "currently", in which case "Are you studying Chinese now?" would be more correct. Thanks 889 for the great example, however jarring it may sound :)!

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Shelley

I think it depends on the context.

 

1)  Are you studying Chinese?  General question.

 

2)  Are you studying Chinese now?    As in you once studied another language and it has changed.

 

3)  Do you study Chinese?  Again a general question.

 

4)  Do you study Chinese now?  Implying something has changed, similar to no. 2

 

I think the the sentences beginning with Do sound somewhat formal to the American ear, but are used more in the UK.

 

I also think the questions beginning with  Are  are being asked about the present and or the future whereas the Do seems more for a general continuing time frame.

 

As in - Are you studying Chinese now or can you come to dinner?

 

I think just on its own with no context it is a bit jarring. i wouldn't teach anyone this just on its own, if they pick it up as they progress and understand how and when to use it then fine.

 

 

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889

To reiterate, "jarring" suggests the phrasing isn't too colloquial. But it's not a grammar mistake.

 

Do you hear me now?

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NinjaTurtle

889,

 

I agree. And yes I am hearing you now.

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rumapa

And I AM NOT understandING all these subtle differences of the English language😋

Do they have anything like continuous (progressive) tenses in Chinese? In Russian, we don't. But we have perfective and non-perfective forms of verbs, the latter roughly equivalent to -ing in English (to be doing sth.).

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roddy

It’s definitely not a grammar mistake. Those are easy. If it’s a mistake, it’s a usage / preference mistake. If there’s a right / wrong to it, it’s contextual. 
 

Swan’s Practical English Usage was what I used to refer to. Not sure what’s good now. 
 

Trouble with these discussions is you end up overthinking it and contriving what-if situations to justify use. 

 

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Demonic_Duck

"Do you study Chinese?" is just the question form of the present simple tense. It's used for asking about habitual actions that are ongoing.

 

Adding "now" suggests that you're asking about change of state. In other words, the person didn't (habitually) study Chinese before.

 

It would be appropriate to ask "Do you study Chinese now?" to someone who (as far as you know) didn't study Chinese in the past.

 

The appropriateness of the question depends on the context, but not on the dialect of English spoken. It can be correct in both British and US English.

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Dawei3
On 10/8/2019 at 5:14 PM, Shelley said:

Do you study Chinese now? 

It's a simple form of the question, but as an American, I sounds weird.  Like Ninjaturtle wrote, I would say "Are you studying Chinese now?" 

 

On 10/9/2019 at 5:14 PM, Demonic_Duck said:

to someone who (as far as you know) didn't study Chinese in the past.

As an American,  I would still say "Are you studying Chinese now?" (with an emphasis on "now"), I wouldn't say "do you..."   It's a subtle thing.... 

 

Regardless of whether grammatically it is right or wrong, "do" sounds "wrong" to my American ear.  Hence, as noted, this may be an American English/English English difference (i.e., not an issue of grammar). 

 

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