"I cannot explain how excruciating it feels to be riding 40km through the desert. You'd expect organizers and the UCI to have some knowledge about cycling."Dutch cyclist Roxane Knetemann said.

Please look at the sentence in bold. Is there a reduced clause? What is the original clause? I don't understand why is there a be.

This is no time when you should be fooling around. The sentence above also has a be, why is that? I can't find an explanation anywhere in my grammar book. Thank you!

  • 2
    In the first sentence theres nothing omitted its the continuous infinitive usually formed with to be and the present participle which is riding in this case. In your second example its also the continuous infinitive only this time it doesnt take the "to" as its preceded by the auxiliary verb "should" Oct 18, 2016 at 12:15
  • 1
    This is somewhat similar to your other question about a participle vs. an infinitive. Basically, you can say "how it feels to ride" or "how it feels to be riding"; the meaning is essentially the same, but to be Xing emphasizes your state of being, while to X emphasizes the action.
    – stangdon
    Oct 18, 2016 at 12:54
  • @ChadThunder Thank you so much!!! It helps a lot! Oct 18, 2016 at 12:58
  • Thank you @stangdon 😆 But why are they similar? I can't see the resemblance... Oct 18, 2016 at 13:01
  • Jasmine - In your other question, you could rephrase the sentence as either saying that the resolutions are prohibiting North Korean launches or that the resolutions prohibit North Korean launches.
    – stangdon
    Oct 18, 2016 at 13:24

1 Answer 1


To ride versus to be riding

The simple marked infinitive "to ride" (to sing, etc) refers to the action outside of time, to the bare idea of the action, if you will. The continuous to be riding refers to the action happening in time, emphasizing its experiential or ongoing aspect.

You might hear a sentence like the following:

A funeral is no time to be playing a video game on your phone!

from a parent scolding a youngster who is in the act of playing a video game, and a sentence like the following:

A funeral is no time to play a video game on your phone.

from a parent who is calmly explaining to a youngster what is appropriate behavior at a solemn occasion. The youngster might be at the dinner table, say, and not playing a video game at that moment.

P.S. Such choices reflect the thoughts in the speaker's mind when the words are coming out of the speaker's mouth. If, at the dinner table, the parent is imagining their child playing a video game at a funeral, and the image is vivid in the parent's mind, the parent might well say to be playing even though there is no video game being played at that moment. Or the parent could be emphasizing the experiential aspect to make the lesson more vivid in the child's mind. These nuanced differences have a variety of motivations, which can often be subconscious, not consciously planned by the speaker.

  • +1 for pointing out how the sentence is in quotation marks
    – J.R.
    Oct 18, 2016 at 15:23
  • Your explanation is very clear. Thank you @Tromano Oct 19, 2016 at 14:04

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