I'm making English subtitles for a French film and I'm having trouble with this sentence:

When you watch a Hitchcock film, you work all the time.

When you're watching a Hitchcock film, you're working all the time.

I just can't decide between the two. Oh and while I'm at it, do you even understand the sentence? It's supposed to mean that you're an active viewer, your mind is at work. But does it make sense, 'you (are) work(ing)' ?

  • What about this one: Watching Hitchcock films engages you.
    – user33000
    May 27, 2016 at 11:38
  • To be honest I don't get the mean you want by those sentences. Better to change the first sentence this way: when you watch a Hitchcock film, you get engaged.
    – user33000
    May 27, 2016 at 11:41
  • That's great. Thank you so much. But let's say it was another sentence, let's forget the meaning, it's just to understand: would you rather use present or progressive present? Like in "when I watch/I'm watching a series, I like to paint my nails".
    – Caroline
    May 27, 2016 at 11:49
  • I agree with Madward. The writer or speaker believes his moveis are this way, so you should use present simple. This tense has other usages too, and you can learn more about both tenses here englishgrammarsecrets.com/presentsimpleorcontinuous/menu.php
    – user33000
    May 27, 2016 at 12:26

1 Answer 1


You want to express a general truth. For this, the present is recommended.

When you watch a Hitchcock film, your mind is constantly at work.

Or something along those lines. See, for example: http://www.grammar-quizzes.com/presten1.html

  • Awesome thank you! That was exactly my question. Now I have to chose between your proposition and Sina's, which also sounds really good. Thank you!
    – Caroline
    May 27, 2016 at 11:51

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