Let's say a group of students is speaking in front of a classroom. In the middle of their talk about a brain research, they just said ''we call this 'paralysis analysis''. After that, their teacher reacted and said:

"You are the one who coined that phrase, it already exists before you even call it that way."


"You are the one who coined that phrase, it is already existing before you even call it that way."

The two sentences above I think is grammatical, but what tense should I use to clearly communicate what I am trying to say?

1 Answer 1


Neither of your sentences is idiomatic.

  1. Call it that way is not an English construction. We say "called it that" or "gave it that name" or "used that name for it".

  2. And in this case it's a little more complicated. You're using the pronoun it to refer to two different things: the phenomenon (call it that) and the name (it existed).

  3. The verb exist is stative and is not usually cast in the progressive form, except as an adjectival participle: it bears a "progressive" sense inherently.

  4. You are casting exist in the wrong tense: the teacher is referring not to the present existence of the phrase but to its past existence, before the students used it.

  5. In any case, exist is an awkward term for a phrase: what you probably mean is that the phrase was "in use" or "current".

What you want to say is something like:

You didn't coin that phrase: it was current in the field before you used it.

However, I think the teacher is being a little unfair. Saying "we call this analysis paralysis" doesn't necessarily claim that the students invented the term—we can mean everybody who studies the phenomenon. The ambiguity can be resolved by using the passive: "This is called analysis paralysis".

  • Brilliant! Moreover, In my construction can I say this: ''You didn't coin that phrase, the ''paralysis analysis'' term was already in use before you called it that'' --grammatical?
    – John Arvin
    Oct 10, 2018 at 14:06
  • 1
    @JohnArvin Mostly. We'd say the term 'analysis paralysis' was already in use. ... By the way, I've just noticed that you say paralysis analysis, which my eye automatically read the other way around -- that's the term I've always encountered, meaning "inaction (paralysis) due to over-analysis". Oct 10, 2018 at 15:00

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