Is there any difference in meaning between lately I meet and lately I have been meeting? I would've thought that lately is used with the Present Perfect Continuous, but in the 23rd episode of the 8th season of Friends, Phoebe used it with the Present Simple. Here is the context:

Phoebe: Ooh, this is it! (Looks in the window.) Oh, that’s him! That’s him!

Joey: Great! Go get him.

Phoebe: Wait a second, or maybe you can go in first.

Joey: (looks in the window) He’s not really my type.

Phoebe: No not you, Dr. Drake Remoray. You can ask him questions and see what’s he like. People tell doctors everything.

Joey: But you said he was this great guy!

Phoebe: But lately all the guys I meet seem really nice at first, then they turn out to be the biggest jerks.

Would the meaning change somehow if she would say lately all the guys I have been meeting... or lately all the guys I am meeting...?

  • The original is fine. It would be equally idiomatic for Phoebe to say lately all the guys I have been meeting [turn out to be jerks], but I have to say that although it's "valid", your all the guys I am meeting smacks of "Indian English" to me. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 29 at 12:30
  • Phoebe meets guys as part of her way of life (like she eats dinner, or watches movies). The word lately divides those guys into two "classes"; 1: those she met quite a long time ago, and 2: all the rest - including anyone she's meeting now, or will meet in the foreseeable future, as well as those she met recently / lately. If it was important to clarify whether that second category included present and/or future meetings, you'd need to use a lot more words to make that distinction - it wouldn't just turn on the choice between meet / am meeting / have been meeting. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 29 at 13:09
  • Thank you for clearifying that! Let me get this right. So what you are saying is that "lately I meet", "lately I am meeting" and "lately I have been meeting" mean the same, right? – Dmytro O'Hope Jun 29 at 13:20
  • In your exact context, yes - they mean the same. But that doesn't necessarily mean they're "equivalent", since as pointed out above, the continuous present has noticeable (to me, at least) connotations with IE (or other "non-native Anglophone"). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 29 at 13:27

Both the example and your suggested alternative refer to an observed trend (nice at first, then turn out to be jerks) in a set of people (some guys). The change in tense affects the scope of the guys.

"all the guys I have been meeting..." would refer to a limited number of guys that you have repeatedly met.

"all the guys I meet..." suggests that you have been meeting guys and continue to meet new ones. In your example, this suggests that the trend observed so far may also continue to be true.

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  • Thank you for the helful answer! Could you please tell me how "lately I meet" and "lately I am meeting are different? – Dmytro O'Hope Jun 29 at 12:19
  • In practice there isn't really any difference. The fine nuance of difference set out above effectively answers the question If there were a difference, what would it be? Except there isn't. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 29 at 12:34

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