Here are some pieces from my previous posts:

  1. A sentence from The Magician's Nephew.

Down and down they rushed, first through darkness and then through a mass of vague and whirling shapes which might have been almost anything.

Q: Why is might have used here?

  1. A sentence from a video game.

She assured the Courier that she will fill the Doomstones series with the lusty and colorful characters we've come to know and love.

Q: Why is the Present Perfect used here?

I've seen that people use the Present Continuous in such cases; however, I can't understand how using a word or a construction by a sentence can be in progress. A sentence and the words in it seem to me something that is permanent.

Is the Present Simple correct to use in such cases, and what's the difference between the Present Simple and Continuous in them?

  • Using Present Indefinite suggests that the sentence is not unique, and used by other people frequently. Using Present Continuous suggests that the sentence is unusual, perhaps whoever asks about it has never encountered it. Sep 22, 2015 at 11:58

1 Answer 1


Both X is used here and X is being used here are acceptable.

The simple construction, is used may designate either 'generic' statements ("X is always used under these circumstances") or particular instances ("X is used in this passage"). This is the form you are most likely to encounter in older and more formal texts.

Over the last hundred years or so, however, it has become increasingly common in speech to employ the progressive construction, is being used, to suggest some sort of a contrast with the generic: a temporary situation, for instance, or a less than universal use. And since this trend has coincided with a general colloquialization of formal writing, this particular use of the progressive is now common in all but the stiffest legal/bureaucratic contexts.

Note that you may also say X was used here: this casts the utterance in question as the result of a singular past act rather than as a text still 'present' to us as readers. In a past context, however, the progressive construction implies imperfective aspect, an unfinished or repeated action, in contrast to the perfective ('over-and-done-with') sense of the simple past, so you can't use a progressive past (*X was being used here) to speak of a single past use.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .