0

I wonder if "Keep looking back" can describe the act of looking back repeatedly at an interval of a few seconds.

For example, you are walking along the sidewalk and a man is walking in the same direction as you are. And while he is walking, he looks back at you for a second and keeps looking forward and this happens again and again like at an interval of several seconds.

This is not him looking back continuously but it is repeated.

In this case, can we say "He keeps looking back (at us) while walking. He is suspicious."?

  • 1
    Yes, "keep" + VERB-ing can be used to indicate both repeated and continuous actions. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 21 '16 at 18:52
  • 1
    Something can keep happening several times a second, or repeatedly at intervals of centuries or more, so the "interval length" isn't relevant to repeated activities. But you could feasibly urge someone to keep living even though they've obviously been doing this continuously beforehand, not repetitively. – FumbleFingers Nov 21 '16 at 19:01
  • To emphasize that the action is repetitive, it is idiomatic in NAmE to use keep on in place of keep, thus: "He keeps on looking back (at us) while walking." – P. E. Dant Nov 21 '16 at 19:39
  • @FumbleFingers I appreciate your elegant explanation. But I can not understand it. Can you describe it in a easier way to understand? I am not a native English speaker so sometimes even a bit easy expressions for a native can be very hard to understand. I will appreciate your mercy! :) – Smart Humanism Nov 24 '16 at 12:16
  • For example, I could say the plane of earth's orbit (obliquity) keeps oscillating between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees, even though it only makes one oscillation every 41,000 years (just because something keeps happening doesn't necessarily mean it's happening very fast). With that particular example it's a matter of emphasis / interpretation whether it's a continuous or a repeated action, but I could also say Life on earth keeps being knocked back by mass extinctions (an 'action' that 'repeats' irregularly every few hundred million years) – FumbleFingers Nov 24 '16 at 14:50
1

"He keeps glancing back (at us) while he is walking."

There is some room for confusing about who is said to be walking.

Using "glancing" prevents creating an image of someone continuously looking back while walking forward.

  • Wow, this is also a good answer. – Smart Humanism Nov 25 '16 at 4:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.