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NinjaTurtle

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

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Zeppa

I don't think it's a British/US difference (I speak BrE). I agree with Roddy that it's a contextual thing and you can overthink it. 

 

Are you studying X now? - the continuous present is the usual choice when something may be temporary. In most cases, that would be the logical tense to use. The inclusion of "now" makes this most likely. 

 

But Do you study X now? is also possible, but it's a rather subtle distinction and confusing to explain. Do you study X? without the "now" is easier to explain - it's not felt to be a temporary thing. Do you study X now? would mean: currently, is this your long-term habit?

 

Another example: Are you living in London (now)? suggests temporary or recent change. Do you live in London? suggests either a permanent state or the questioner isn't emphasizing the time element. 

 

I have a feeling this will not help!

 

Incidentally, try thinking about the positive version, non-question: I study Chinese (now) / I am studying Chinese (now). That can be easier to understand. It avoids Shelley's problem with "Do" being more British (which I suspect it isn't).

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roddy

Yeah. I mean, say you're a parent who hasn't been kept up to date with your child's change of major, but he's talking about a trip to Beijing and not France. You might ask the question that way. Your focus is on the bare fact, not its extension in time. I don't think there's a UK/US difference. 

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rumapa

So "Do you study X now?" cannot mean something like "Have you started studying X now that you've failed studying Y"? Should you use "Are you studying X?" in this case too?

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Zeppa
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On 10/11/2019 at 9:48 AM, rumapa said:

So "Do you study X now?" cannot mean something like "Have you started studying X now that you've failed studying Y"? Should you use "Are you studying X?" in this case too?

I think it can mean that, but I would probably say 'studying'. I don't think it's that categorical. 

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NinjaTurtle
On 10/11/2019 at 3:19 AM, Zeppa said:

I study Chinese (now) / I am studying Chinese (now).

 

This is a good case where both examples are correct and have different meanings. I can now see how this is not an American/British difference at all.

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