Merovingian: Oh God, my God, Persephone how could you do this, you betrayed me!

Persephone: Cause and effect, my love.

Merovingian: Cause? There is no cause for this, what cause?

Persephone: What cause? How about the lipstick you're still wearing?

Merovingian: Lipstick? Lipstick? What craziness you are talking about woman, there is no lipstick.

Persephone: She wasn't kissing your face, my love.

Merovingian: Ai-ai-ai-ai-ai-ai, woman, this is nothing, c'est rien, c'est rien du tout. [Trans: This is nothing, this is nothing at all] It's a game, it is only a game.

Persephone: So is this. Have fun.

-- Scene from The Matrix Reloaded

I'm wondering why past continuous tense is used. I would say "She didn't kiss your face" instead.

Any nuances suggested?

  • 6
    I imagine this is another example of the increasingly common implicit or explicit references to oral sex in mainstream movies. Because mouth to mouth (or cheek) kissing is often just a single quick action performed as part of normal social greeting conventions, it's more likely to be described using the simple past tense. In OP's context we can reasonably suppose Persephone is annoyed that Merovingian has been getting blowjobs from some other woman. Using past continuous more strongly implies a more leisurely process, rather than a quick peck on his pecker. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 21 '14 at 13:27
  • Actually I wasn't thinking about the duration of the kiss. Does the simple past tense suggest the result while the past continuous suggest the action itself? @FumbleFingers – Kinzle B Sep 21 '14 at 14:53
  • 1
    I think that's a very insightful way of putting it, yes. If we imagine changing the context a bit and have Merovingian canoodling with Edwina Scissorhands, Persephone would be much more likely to say "She didn't cut you, did she?", rather than "She wasn't cutting you, was she?". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 21 '14 at 15:02

"She wasn't kissing your face" implies that the kissing took some time. When used literally, "was kissing" can imply multiple kisses. "She didn't kiss your face" sounds more like there was one kiss. Since Persephone is referring to oral sex, the continuous tense is more appropriate.


This is to emphasize, first, the duration of the kiss, and second, to put the focus of the negation on 'the face' rather than on 'kiss'. She didn't kiss your face would more likely mean She did something else with your face

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.