can be + VERB-ing

Although there are a number of similar points in the English Grammar Profile for modal verbs followed by continuous aspect, there is not an entry for ‘CAN + continuous’.

We predict that if future continuous affirmative is A2, should + continuous B2, might or may + continuous C1 that ‘can + continuous’ is at least B1.

There is also a very similar point at B1 that is usually followed with adjectives:

For many people, these changes can be overwhelming and negative

but in my opinionthese changes also can be exciting and stimulating.

PELIC STUDENT EXAMPLE: Spanish female, level 4 writing class.


A search in the NOW corpus for:

can_VM be _VVG

*note that many of these -ing forms might be adjectives!

1 CAN BE CHALLENGING 7496
2 CAN BE DECEIVING 4333
3 CAN BE DAMAGING 1082
4 CAN BE EXHAUSTING 791
5 CAN BE DISTRACTING 729
6 CAN BE UNSETTLING 500
7 CAN BE WORKING 410
8 CAN BE TERRIFYING 401
9 CAN BE GOING 399
10 CAN BE DRAINING 396
11 CAN BE JARRING 378
12 CAN BE DEMANDING 361
13 CAN BE TAXING 319
14 CAN BE REWARDING 319
15 CAN BE SITTING 312
16 CAN BE PLAYING 295
17 CAN BE TRYING 295
18 CAN BE LOOKING 291
19 CAN BE UNNERVING 276
20 CAN BE LIFESAVING 254
21 CAN BE LIMITING 252
22 CAN BE DISHEARTENING 241
23 CAN BE TALKING 233
24 CAN BE MAKING 230
25 CAN BE TAKING 227
26 CAN BE EMPOWERING 219
27 CAN BE DISORIENTING 217
28 CAN BE UPSETTING 210
29 CAN BE TRIGGERING 205
30 CAN BE GETTING 201
31 CAN BE ISOLATING 196
32 CAN BE USING 191
33 CAN BE MADDENING 188
34 CAN BE APPEALING 173
35 CAN BE WALKING 165
36 CAN BE STAGGERING 165
37 CAN BE FLEETING 164
38 CAN BE DISCOURAGING 160
39 CAN BE PARALYZING 156
40 CAN BE RUNNING 152
41 CAN BE CONFRONTING 152
42 CAN BE LACKING 145
43 CAN BE CONCERNING 142
44 CAN BE GRUELING 142
45 CAN BE WATCHING 130
46 CAN BE REASSURING 129
47 CAN BE MOVING 127
48 CAN BE TELLING 126
49 CAN BE REVEALING 123
50 CAN BE WEARING 123
51 CAN BE TRAUMATIZING 120
52 CAN BE WAITING 117
53 CAN BE POLARIZING 115
54 CAN BE HAPPENING 114
55 CAN BE MONITORING 107
56 CAN BE STANDING 105
57 CAN BE DEMORALIZING 104
58 CAN BE INSPIRING 104
59 CAN BE MOTIVATING 104
60 CAN BE STIFLING 103
61 CAN BE THREATENING 102
62 CAN BE HELPING 98
63 CAN BE LIVING 96
64 CAN BE COMING 95
65 CAN BE STARTLING 94
66 CAN BE LEARNING 90
67 CAN BE CRUSHING 87
68 CAN BE GIVING 85
69 CAN BE COMPELLING 83
70 CAN BE TROUBLING 82


B1 vocabulary:  challenging, damaging, demanding