France could be entering a new age of deep political instability.

Thousands of jihadists could be entering Tunisia, and this would be the greatest force of instability in the North African country.

Can we just say "could enter" instead of "could be entering"? What is the difference?

  • No, I think I have to change "be enter" to "enter" as "could be enter" seems gramatically wrong. Apr 25 '17 at 18:09
  • 3
    Entering is a present participle. We us present participles to express the idea of something that is happening continuously. In this context, the use of an infinitive would suggest that thousands of jihadists might rock up all at the same time.
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 25 '17 at 18:13
  • Thank you so much Java. Good point for me and very helpfull Apr 25 '17 at 18:15

No, you can't say "could be enter". It doesn't mean something different, it's just wrong. This is because the sentences are referring to the present continuous tense, which is made with the verb "to be" and the present participle of the verb:

  • France is entering a new age
  • jihadists are entering Tunisia
  • she was eating spaghetti
  • they were sleeping

What might make the original sentences more confusing are the use of the modal could. When you use could, the verb following it is in the bare infinitive, but if you're using the present continuous, the participle stays a participle. So it works like this:

  • present tense: She eats spaghetti.
  • present continuous: She is eating spaghetti.
  • modal could and present tense: She could eat spaghetti.
  • present continuous with modal could: She could be eating spaghetti.
  • Thank you a lot, so "jahadists could be entring" is in the present continous AND it indicates that "entring" will be continous not that jahadists will rock up all at the same time as Javatte mention .. right? Apr 26 '17 at 3:15
  • 1
    @GamalThomas - Correct, it's the present continuous, and it indicates that they're in the process of doing it.
    – stangdon
    Apr 26 '17 at 11:01

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.