What are your motivations for doing this course? What do you want to achieve? Are you wanting a practical outcome, are you just browsing, or do you want to further develop your understanding of a particular concept?

I'm taking an online course provided by the University of New South Wales. The passage above is taken from one of my assignments.

The use of "want" in the present continuous has got me puzzled. As far as I know, this verb can't be used in the present continuous because it's state. Why is it used in this tense then? Is it for some special emotional colouring? If so, why is "want" used in the present simple in the second part of the same sentence?


Just to start off, "are you wanting" is very formal and I can't say I have ever used it before.

If I had to take a guess I'd say "are you wanting" is more for far future than near future.

I hope this helps.

| improve this answer | |

"Are you wanting" in the context means a desire to fulfill the immediate want as against 'do you want' seeks to convey a planned desire/want.

| improve this answer | |

I realize that websites point out that these are "not usually used" in the present progressive, but "not usually" does not mean forbidden. It just means to be careful, make sure it makes sense in your context.

One such context is that we can use the present continuous with a state verb if we want to emphasize that something is temporary or happening specifically around the present time. You are wanting to develop a skill, and you will soon acquire it upon passing the course. This context isolates the "wanting" in the current moment.

Another explanation, and one I like better, is that it is being used as a synonym for the verb to wish. That verb can indeed be used in the present progressive. The blurriness of time connoted here is contrasted with the more pointed "do you want" in the next sentence. Also, since the verb 'to browse' is in this tense, 'to want' is written in the same tense for the sake of agreement.

I came across another example at this link:

| improve this answer | |

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.