A coworker and I have been discussing the grammar of an error message on a computer when downloading a file that is too big. The debate is between whether it should say “The file exceeds the maximum file size limit,” or “The file is exceeding the maximum file size limit.”
I looked up information about transitive/intransitive verbs as well as active/passive verbs, but I couldn’t find the grammar or style rules that describe this type of situation (I think I just don’t know what to look for.. hence the poorly-worded title). Any insight?
In a comment, John Lawler wrote:
The grammar rule that mandates exceeds instead of is exceeding in this case is the one disallows the progressive construction (is selling, is succeeding) when the verb involved is stative (describing a state). Thus you can’ t say *I am owning that house because own is stative, but you can say I am renting that house because rent is not stative. Exceed, as it happens, is stative.