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  1. #1
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Default idiomatic tense usage

    Hi there,


    Reading an essay the other day I came upon the two sentences which baffled me because of their grammar structures, to be precise, not because of those in themselves, but because of their peculiar usages.

    1) “Lovers are always talking to one another about their love, …” (bold italics added)

    Well, I am quite aware of the fact that the present continuous may go with a habitual, repeated action if you want to express disapproval, as e.g. “ An enthusiastic botanist is for them a dreadful companion on a ramble. He is always stopping to draw their attention to particulars.” (bold italics added), which is taken from the same book. This usage, however, does not apply to the above quoted sentence 1).

    2) “Shakespeare has described the satisfaction of a tyrannous lust of something …” (bold italics added)

    I wonder why the author used the present perfect here instead of the past simple, which I would have expected here due to the well-known fact that the Bard of Avon is dead. Well, one could argue that the author wants to put stress on the idea that the validity of the description in question has been true down the ages to the very day. This, however, implies that there are exceptions to the rule according to which the past simple is compulsory in case of a dead poet, thus being incapable of writing any more poetry.

    Can anybody shed light on the issues?


    Greetings


    Hucky

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: idiomatic tense usage

    Quote Originally Posted by Hucky View Post
    Reading an essay the other day I came upon the two sentences which baffled me because of their grammar structures, to be precise, not because of those in themselves, but because of their peculiar usages.

    1) “Lovers are always talking to one another about their love, …” (bold italics added)

    Well, I am quite aware of the fact that the present continuous may go with a habitual, repeated action if you want to express disapproval, as e.g. “ An enthusiastic botanist is for them a dreadful companion on a ramble. He is always stopping to draw their attention to particulars.” (bold italics added), which is taken from the same book. This usage, however, does not apply to the above quoted sentence 1).

    Although you will sometimes see suggestions that this usage implies disapproval, that is simply not the case.

    2) “Shakespeare has described the satisfaction of a tyrannous lust of something …” (bold italics added)

    I wonder why the author used the present perfect here instead of the past simple, which I would have expected here due to the well-known fact that the Bard of Avon is dead. Well, one could argue that the author wants to put stress on the idea that the validity of the description in question has been true down the ages to theis very day. This, however, implies that there are exceptions to the rule according to which the past simple is compulsory in case of a dead poet, thus being incapable of writing any more poetry.

    Can anybody shed light on the issues?
    The underlined words are your own answer to the question.

    There is actually no 'rule' saying that the past simple is compulsory for dead poets. It simply happens that when we are talking abut people (not just poets) who are dead, the appropriate tense is almost always a past tense - because the actions and words of a dead person are located in past time.

  3. #3
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: idiomatic tense usage

    Hucky, you asked this question already and it was answered. Why are you asking for the second time?

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