What's the difference between:

What should we be doing if the inflation goes up?


What should we do if inflation goes up?

  • 3
    I'd always suggest using the simpler of possible alternative verb forms in any case. Superficially there doesn't seem to be anything obviously "grammatically incorrect" about using the continuous form (#1) here, and I certainly don't think many native speakers would unhesitatingly rule it out. But on closer consideration I don't think it really works very well anyway. We often use Present Continuous to reference future acts (I am going to London tomorrow), but if it's a conditional, hypothetical future we tend to be more explicit (I will go to London tomorrow if you come with me). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 22 '17 at 16:01
  • What should we be doing if inflation goes up?

The progressive form here indicates an increased concern about the problem. The progressive makes the action more immediate to perception.

I wouldn't suggest this construction to refer to a conditional, hypothetical future.

However, it can be used in such examples:

  • "What should we be doing when Mary comes tomorrow?"
  • "We should be collecting cherry in the garden."

The second fits in here best:

  • What should we do if inflation goes up? (What should we do in the future if hypothetically the inflation goes up?)

The first would fit in good enough if it were constructed this way:

  • What should we be doing if we want the inflation not to go up? (What are we doing wrong now and what should we do instead?)

Compared to:

  • What should we do if we want the inflation not to go up? (What measures should be taken?)
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