6

Which one is correct?

  1. I'm coming please be waiting. (Also, is waiting gerund here?)

  2. I'm coming please wait.

10

They're both perfectly valid, but they convey different nuances...

1: I'm coming, please be waiting (a continuous verb, not a gerund = noun usage)
- I want to find you waiting for me when I arrive

2: I'm coming, please wait
- I want to you to wait (start waiting) for me now

In practice they basically mean the same thing, but version #1 is far more "imperious / authoritatively demanding" (something a boss might say to an underling, rather than a simple request to a friend), so you should probably avoid it in most contexts.

  • Good point on "when I arrive" - with "be waiting" you are highlighting the fact you don't care what they will do before time comes (like "coming to pick you up in an hour, be waiting" - drink or whatever for 50 minutes, but stand ready to jump into the car after that) when with "wait" you expect particular activity not to start. – Alexei Levenkov Jul 20 at 3:43
  • This is subtle, but I would say that "when I arrive" is implied by context -- that is, "please be waiting" in this case is an abbreviation of "please be waiting when I arrive [and before that, I don't care what you do]." You could also be more explicit, like "please be waiting for the bus at 3 PM", etc. "Please wait" in context could mean that the waiting should start right now, i.e. "please wait for me [so I can get ready, before you leave]". It also tends to get used in computer interfaces, meaning "I am doing what you asked, please wait for me to finish doing it." – Glenn Willen Jul 20 at 18:36
6

"Be waiting" and "wait" are both imperative verb forms. Since they are both instructions to do the same thing (wait), it seems like they should have exactly the same meaning, but they don't.

"Be waiting" is a progressive tense. The word "waiting" is not a gerund but a verb form (present participle). The progressive tense sometimes gives English learners problems. It is what we use when we want to talk about an activity (waiting) that takes place repeatedly or habitually, or has a duration that continues over a period of time. It emphasizes the state or conditions during that period of time. "Please be waiting" means "I want you to be in a state of waiting (readiness)." The implication is that the person will remain in the state of "waiting" for some length of time.

The simple imperative, "wait", is what we use when we are talking about a simple one-time action. "Please wait" means "Wait (once) right now." The implication is that the person only needs to stop any current activity or plans for a moment (or at least a short time).

So sentence #1 would be appropriate in advance of a planned meeting between two people. For example, You might tell someone that you will be coming to pick them up on your way to the airport an hour from now, and you don't want to be late:

"I'm coming, please be waiting."

Sentence #2 might be used for a momentary delay in a meeting. For example, if you knew you were late, but you were almost there, and you didn't want the other person to leave because they thought you forgot, you might text them:

"I'm coming, please wait"

0

Also, I'm unsure if to call it gerund here, since the present participle "waiting" is being used as an adjective rather than a noun.

the waiting person
The person is waiting.
I hope that you are waiting.

As opposed to:

his waiting
The person's waiting was in vain.
I hope your waiting doesn't bore you.

(Though the simple noun "wait" is more likely to be used here)

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