The changing verb phrase in present-day British English

Findings: The progressive

Research questions:

  • Is there evidence that the progressive is increasing in present-day spoken English as is said to be the case for written English?

Summary of main findings:

  • There is a statistically significant increase in the frequency of use of progressive measured as a proportion of progressivisable verb phrases over the period covered by the LLC (1958-1977) and ICE-GB (1990-92).

Table 1: the rise of the progressive year by year in DCPSE.

  • This can be viewed more clearly in the graph below.

Figure 5: Charting the rise in spoken progressive use in English using DCPSE.

These results were presented at the symposium on Current Change in the English Verb Phrase at ICLCE3, London, July 2009. The PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded here. A pre-publication version of a paper on recent change in the progressive (Aarts, Close and Wallis 2010) can be downloaded from the main page for the project, The changing verb phrase in present-day British English.

This page last modified 12 June, 2013 by Jill Bowie.