Imagine that I ordered a book through the net 2 months ago and so far I haven't received it yet. I have been trying to contact the seller but none of my emails has been answered. Right now I writing a new email beginning by:

I have been sending many emails since I made my order.

Is it possible to use progressive (ongoing situation until I have received an answer or the book) with 'many' which is an indefinite quantity? I know that with a definite quantity it is better to employ present perfect simple:

I have read 6 books, eaten 7 apples.

  • As a Learner: I think it's better to use present perfect. Otherwise, It sounds as if an E-mail was sent every ten seconds. Considering a logical point of view, I think you should use present perfect. You may have sent 100 Emails, but it's not large enough to sanction using a progressive aspect. – Cardinal Jul 2 '17 at 12:15
  • The progressive aspect has nothing to do with having done something "enough" times. You could be writing a single email for an hour - or a month if you're a serious procrastinator. Anyhow, as a native speaker I would say the perfect suits this sentence better. Maybe the reason is that this email is an interruption of the process; it stands outside the previous emails because it draws attention to them. The progressive is grammatically fine, but it feels situationally wrong. P.S. I would considering opening a case about that order rather than sending yet another email. – Luke Sawczak Jul 2 '17 at 12:57
  • @LukeSawczak "The progressive aspect has nothing to do with having done something", I agree. I didn't say it has something to do with ... I was saying that, if you have sent 100 E-mails every two days or so during the last month, then the number 100 is not large enough to reflect something like spamming which is conveyed when using progressive aspect. – Cardinal Jul 2 '17 at 13:20
  • yes but it is to emphasize the ongoing process if I only use present perfect the ongoing aspect will disappear and this email is not an interruption of the process and it does not stand against the previous emails but it is one email out of many others . In any case it is the last. I am going to send emails till I have received an answer , I won't give up that is why I choose progressive. – user5577 Jul 2 '17 at 13:29
  • @Cardinal That's what I understood you to mean, but neither 100 nor any other number is relevant. You can be sending one email over the course of a month, and you can have sent a million emails over the course of a month (even if these are at the extremes of slowness and quickness!). – Luke Sawczak Jul 2 '17 at 13:38

Your sentence

I have been sending many emails since I made my order...

is correct but sounds a little odd, possibly because sending an email is a specific process with a certain time. It sounds like you may be spamming them.

Usually one might say

I have been trying to contact you since I made my order...

| improve this answer | |
  • Agreed; that's a good compromise between the perceived finality of "I have sent many emails" and the oddness of "I have been sending many emails." – Luke Sawczak Jul 2 '17 at 13:37

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