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What is the difference between following two sentences ?

  1. How many hours do they have you working in the company ?
  2. How many hours do they have you work in the company ?

if i want to ask someone how many hours he is working in the company, do i have to use sentence 1. ? If i used sentence 2, would it be wrong ?

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  • The second sentence is definitely not wrong. But why not simply ask "how many hours a day do you have to work?" May 14, 2016 at 15:22

2 Answers 2

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This is a peculiarity of English grammar. Many languages do not do this.

The word "working" is, in this instance, not a gerund but a participle; whereas work is just an infinitive with the particle "to" omitted.

Better idiom is probably sentence 2, "work," in most cases. However, if you mean to emphasize present continuation rather than general status, you might prefer sentence 1, "working."

The difference is the same as the difference between these:

  1. I am working.

  2. I work.

The distinction between these two is subtle. It is a distinction many languages lack.

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  • Oh i see.....if i want to ask someone how many hours he is working in the company, do i have to use sentence 1. ? If i used sentence 2, would it be wrong ?
    – yubraj
    May 14, 2016 at 4:22
  • I'm sorry, @yubraj. I do not know if I can make my answer any better. In English, the distinction between "I am working" and "I work" is subtle. If in doubt, prefer "I work." You only use "I am working" if you wish to emphasize that your activity, at the moment of time at which you speak, is work. So, for example, during his lunch period, a worker would say "I work," but not "I am working."
    – thb
    May 14, 2016 at 11:09
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The first sentence doesn't make sense to me. I would use the second.

These sentences both use "causative have" - "have someone do something" is similar inform and meaning to "make someone do something".

The difference may become clearer if we change "have" to "make" and also turn the sentences into declarations:

  1. They make me working in the company 9 hours a day.
  2. They make me work in the company 9 hours a day.

The second sentence fits what I think you mean. The first may be grammatically correct, but I don't see what it means and why anyone would use it; if the sentence is supposed to be in present progresive, it should use "They are making me work..." instead.

If I'm missing the point, please reply and explain.

Note that it may make more sense with past progressive instead: "they had me working 9 hours a day" means that, for a specific period in the past, you were forced to work 9 hours a day. I think the difference is that this period has started and has ended, unlike the present progressive which does not imply the end of the described action.

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  • I'm in hesitation, i don't know which answer is correct for my question. I hope someone would make it clear to me.
    – yubraj
    May 14, 2016 at 8:15
  • Please someone help me to choose the best answer for my question !!!!!!
    – yubraj
    May 14, 2016 at 13:19

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