I have the following exercise in my textbook:

So, Matt, how are things with you? You look very well. I hear you (do) OK for yourself.

The context is “. . . conversation between two ex-colleagues who have not seen each other for some time.” It is asked to use the appropriate tense of do, one of the present simple and present continuous or both.

Only the present continuous can be used here, according to the textbook. I have absolutely no idea why.

Here, do seems to be a stative verb. It is used to describe what the other person is. He “is doing OK.” Why would one want to use the present continuous here? And why is the present simple not appropriate here?

1 Answer 1


(1) I hear you do OK for yourself.

sounds to me slightly odd. In the absence of context I would suspect it of being from a speaker of British English. But I have heard this exact cform ""do OK for yourself" enough that I would not call it "wrong" or even "unnatural" and any text which labels it unacceptable is in my view mistaken

(2) I hear you are doing OK for yourself.

seems to me more common and expected. But I can think of no "rule" or guideline or principle that favors (2) over (1).

I would add that using (2), which is a present continuous construction, emphasizes that this refers to Matt's current status, and perhaps not to his general prosperity over the last 10 years or so. But mostly this is a matter of style, and the two forms are effectively interchangeable, and do not reliably convey different meanings.

I should also add that "to do OK for oneself" (or "to do well for yourself") is an idiom meaning to be prosperous, b=to be financially comfortable, but it might be thought of as an action, the action of earning sufficient money, rather than a state. Also, the similar sounding "to do yourself well" means to live luxuriously, to stay in expensive hotels and eat and pricey restaurants in particular. The two expression are not unrelated, but have significantly different implications.

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