“Really?” she’d said, a trace of sadness in her voice. “Really, truly?” Billy and Papa nodded at the same time.

“I’m Dad,” said Papa.

Mama put her bag of school things on the floor, sat on a kitchen chair, and pulled Billy to her. She hugged him, and in the most natural way, said, “I guess you’re growing up.”

“Yup,” he said, squirming away from the hug.

The above paragraph is from the The Year of Billy Miller What is the meaning of the bold sentence?Does it mean that Miller has grown up? Why does the writer use present continuous?

  • I think that growing up is a phrase rather than forming present continuous, but I did not find any references to prove that.
    – Henry Wang
    Jan 21, 2017 at 13:36

1 Answer 1


This is partly a matter of opinion, but I think the author uses present continuous because Billy is in the process of growing up - that is, he is in the process of becoming more mature, but he is not fully grown yet.

In a larger, more idiomatic sense, Mama's remark can be interpreted as "I acknowledge that you are becoming more mature" - that is, that it is normal and natural that Billy should change.

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