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Re: USAGE: Implied prepositions in English

From:Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Date:Wednesday, November 19, 2008, 19:16
On Wed, Nov 19, 2008 at 2:03 PM, Yahya Abdal-Aziz <yahya@...> wrote:
> Let me just observe here that it is perfectly good > Indian (subcontinental) English to declare that: > "Spot is being a dog".
That is perfectly good Southeastern US English as well, but I suspect the meaning is different. Around here, if you say "Spot is a dog." that is a simple declaration of fact; but if you say "Spot is being a dog." that really means something like "Spot is acting like a dog." Which, in turn, means that Spot is behaving in a particularly doglike manner. Aspect doesn't really into it - you might be observing Spot in the act when the statement is being made, or you might be discussing Spot's habitual behavior with his owner. Often you would hear a "just" there, as in "Spot is just being a dog", when the statement is being offered up as an explanation for some behavior. ("I wish Spot would stop eating the trash!") The common phrase "Boys will be boys" uses the future tense to convey a similar sort of idea. You might also hear "Jackie is being a dog" to mean that Jackie, who is not in fact a dog, is pretending to be one. But you would never hear "X is being a dog" from a native who simply wanted to point out the doggish nature of X. That sort of overuse of the progressive is quite markedly "foreign", and indeed strongly associated with Subcontinental accents. -- Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>