This post is a follow-up to my previous blog about Helping Verbs (or “auxiliary verbs”) – verbs that are used along with participles to create verb phrases. Verbs like is, are, was, were, may, might, have, had, has, and fourteen others (there are 23 helping verbs in total).
Here are actual statements from television news reporters, Saturday, April 25, 2009 -
“A professor at UC San Diego
“The Centers for Disease Control warning of a potential outbreak of the Swine Flu.”
In this day of instant gratification and shortcuts – fast food, microwaves, NetLingo, emoticons, text messages, IM, SMS, and GPR – even our news is being delivered in timesaver fashion.
I call it “Gerund News” because there are a lot of –ings. To be technically correct, of course, it should be called “Lack-of-Helping-Verbs-With-Present-Participle News.” But I think “Gerund News” has a nicer ring to it.
Although both gerunds and certain participles end in –ing, they function as different parts of speech. Gerunds are used as nouns, while participles function as part of a verb phrase or as an adjective.
An –ing word might be a noun (verbal noun):
His writing is easy to recognize.
Writing prose is difficult for some people.
The President’s addressing some of the troops in Iraq was shown on the news.
The protesting of government’s big spending was not covered by the mainstream media.
She is writing her memoirs.
She is enrolled in a writing class. (as adjective)
The President will be addressing a group of reporters.
The people were protesting government’s big spending.
We use participles to form the continuous tenses (am going, was going, will be going, etc.). And participles require helping verbs (auxiliary verbs, like am, was, will). This is where some TV news reporters get oh-so lazy.
The President addressing
a group of reporters.
The people protesting government’s big spending.
The problem with taking this shortcut is that it’s just plain bad English.
... It showing lack of grammar knowledge, and TV newscasters
looking like lazy speakers. I want to know why it happening? And when it