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  1. #1
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    For WUKEN- Present & Present Continuous forms of the verb

    Paranoid? MOI? Just because hours after posting my (at last) completion of this posting, it remains lost in some vast infinite cyber space contained in the thin wires between a Server and Storage disc?
    Not when I can re-try posting!


    When I speak, I am talking about some action, some information, or fact. But also, I can – I could - convey how this information relates to my life in terms of my sense of ‘time’:
    1. is it in the past, over and done, finished; OR, is it still relevant to me - does it still have some sense of being part of my life; OR, is it something that hasn’t happened yet, is to come, is in the future?
    AND
    2. whether I see the action as happening over a period of time.

    So – I can convey some information where I do not regard ‘time’ as being relevant to what I am saying. I can do this by using the Present Tense form of the verb. I am obviously saying this, conveying this information NOW, but I do not locate it in ‘time’ (past, present, future) nor do I see it occurring over a period of time.
    It’s important to understand the uses of the Present Tense form of the verb first before we introduce ‘time’, so let’s review that:

    First Use:
    “I am/I’m busy. Ask someone else.”
    Here, it is easy to see that I am referring to the present moment.

    But look at this sentence:
    The train leaves at 9 a.m. tomorrow.
    ‘leaves’ is the present tense form, yet I am referring to a future event. Even when I take out the time phrase that indicates a specific time in the future -
    The train leaves from Paddington, which is easy to get to.
    - I am still referring to a future event, without any specific time phrase to indicate that this is in the future, yet using the present tense form of the verb ‘to leave’.
    So - the Second Use:
    The present tense form of the verb is used when I, the speaker, state an objective fact (or make a statement I believe to be true), or state something of which I am so certain and sure, that I regard it as an objective fact. Specifically locating this in time is not relevant. The train I am taking ALWAYS leaves from Paddington –has done in the past, will today, and will tomorrow. There is no need to place this statement in a specific time frame. Similarly, the sentence -
    Mary is a teacher.
    - is the speaker stating a fact. That she has been teaching for many years, and may teach for many more is irrelevant. He is stating a fact about her profession.
    London is the capital of England.
    Easter is in March next year, not April.
    Water boils at 100º C.

    So -what is happening here, is that when I speak, NOW stretches to include all the things that I see as being constant, unchanging, as true today as it was yesterday as it will be tomorrow, so being specific about ‘when’ this happens in time is irrelevant. Neither is 'how long it takes water to actually boil' - any reference to a period of time is also not relevant.

    Let’s look at three sentences:
    (a) I leave for Hong Kong next week.
    (b) I will/I’ll leave when I’m good and ready to leave. Nobody throws me out of a bar.
    (c) I leave when I’m good and ready to leave. Don’t let anybody throw you out of a bar.

    In (a), I am stating a fact about my life - I am quite sure of my plans.
    In (b), I specifically use the Future Tense form of the verb to indicate that there will come some moment in the future when I will leave, and that will come when I feel ready to leave, (not because anybody is ordering me around.)
    In (c) I seem to be saying the same thing, but have used the present tense form of the verb. I have actually changed the meaning, and the sentence has become an assertion, a ‘fact’ about me and my life. Say a man has just told me he got thrown out of a bar last night. I reply: “That wouldn’t happen to me. Any bar I go into, I leave when I’m good and ready to leave. Nobody throws me out of a bar! Don't let anybody throw you out of a bar!”
    That this may be just bragging and not true in reality doesn’t matter. I am speaking and I state it as a ‘fact’ about me, my life, and how tough I am. Whenever - in the past, right now, or some bar I might be in tomorrow - the fact remains constant: "In any bar, any time, I leave when I choose to leave."

    So - the present tense form is used when I see some action as :
    1. a fact and 'timeless'
    or
    2. the event as immediate, NOW, as opposed to remote and in the past (or possible future)
    or
    3. where 'time' or placing it in time is irrelevant

    Of these, (3) may be the most difficult to understand, so look at these two sentences:
    (a) He refused to give it to me.
    (b) He refuses to give it to me.

    In both sentences, I am referring to the same event: at a time before NOW as I speak, I went up to this 'he' and said, "Give it to me" and he said, "No." He refused. Yet I recount this in (a), in the past tense form of the verb and in (b), using the present tense form. So - what is my perspective, my view of this situation, that determines whether I say (a) or (b)?
    In (a), I see the action of 'asking him' and his 'refusing' as being over, complete, finished. I may still have lingering, ongoing feelings about his refusal, but the event itself is finished.
    But what if I am saying this to some person with the hope or expectation that they will have some idea about how I can still get him to 'give it to me'. So now my perspective is, 'I asked him and he refused but I haven't given up trying - somebody may know a way I can get him to give it to me, make him give it to me... and then I'll ask him again for it'. So in my mind, it is NOT over - I do not place it in the past and so use the past tense verb. This whole issue is still relevant to me NOW and continues to be. My perspective is seeing this whole situation of trying to get him to give it to me, and his refusal is the present state of the matter, where things are up to at the moment.

    BUT- what if I say, " He is refusing to give it to me."
    What is my perspective that I use the present continuous form of the verb?

  2. #2
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    Re: For WUKEN- Present & Present Continuous forms of the verb

    PRESENT CONTINUOUS FORM OF THE VERB:

    (So I don’t get ahead of myself, I’ll come back to “is refusing”.)

    “It rains a lot in Scotland.” This is another ‘timeless’ fact. BUT – if right now I walk to the window and see water falling from the sky, I don’t say, “It rains” – I say, “It’s raining(It is raining.)”
    Similarly:
    “I brush my teeth every day.”
    But let someone call to me through the bathroom door, “How long will you be?” I don’t reply, “I brush my teeth” but “I’m (just) brushing my teeth (I am brushing…)”.
    This is an action, an event happening right NOW, yet instead of just the simple present tense, I have responded using the present continuous.
    What is different from the present tense use is that
    1. these sentences refer to specific instances of the ‘timeless facts’ of ‘I brush every day’ etc.
    AND
    2. With the Present tense form, ‘time’ was irrelevant. But when a specific instance is happening, I cannot conceive of this as being ‘timeless’ since every specific action takes time to perform, even if just a matter of seconds. It does not rain for a single instant -(call it, ‘NOW’) – but occurs within a band of time stretching either side of NOW, from some point in time before NOW, and extending after NOW. Brushing my teeth takes time, a few minutes.
    (Compare that with the sentence : “I own a car.” I cannot use the form “I am owning a car” because ‘to own’ is not an action, and so not an ongoing action that takes time to complete– I either own a car, or I don’t; I 'have owned', or I 'will own'.)

    AND…there’s something more:
    In Wuken’s original thread, he gave the sentences:
    (a) He stays with us (when he is in England).
    and
    (b) He is staying with us (while he is in England).
    In (a), I am presenting this as a timeless fact. How long he stays at my house each time he visits England is not relevant when I give you this information. It is black and white : not at a hotel, but at my house, ‘with us’.
    In (b) I refer to a specific instance that is ongoing as I speak, and has a beginning (the day he arrived) and will have an end (when he leaves). That is, it is for a limited period of time – I see this as a temporary situation.
    (I could say to someone: “Jack is staying with us at that moment. He always stays with us when he comes to England.”)

    But let’s look at this idea of ‘limited period of time’ and ‘temporary situation’:
    (a) I live in London.
    (b) I am living in London.
    These types of sentences, and ‘when would you use one or the other’ often occur in threads.
    Sentence (a) is, yes, a fact, but also we can imagine a beginning (either because I was born there, or because I moved there) and an end, if I should move…or when I die. But as the speaker, I do not consider that ‘how long’ is relevant, any idea of ‘time’ is irrelevant –it’s merely that, ‘I don’t live in New York’ , simply, ‘I live in London’. So why would I change to the ‘am living’ form of the verb?
    Because I see it as being a temporary situation – I see it as being ‘for a limited period of time.’ That is the crucial difference.
    So – I might say to someone:
    I live in London. I’ve just sold my pokey flat, so I’m living with my aunt at the moment while I look around for a house to buy.”
    ‘live in London’ is ‘timeless’ – I view this as a constant part of my life – but I view ‘living with my aunt’ as temporary, and that is my perspective and so determines my choice of verb form, the present continuous form.
    So – again, I use the Present Continuous form when:

    1. I am talking about a specific instance of an action or event that is happening as I speak. NOW
    and
    2. I see this as temporary, or happening for a limited period of time, and where I can conceive of a definite beginning, and a definite end. ‘It is raining :it was dry earlier, so it began sometime after that, and my experience tells me it will end in minutes if it is a shower, or after an hour, or longer…but it will end.
    This ‘limited period of time’ may be seconds, as in “He is sneezing/winking at me’, or years – “He is studying medicine at John Hopkins. It’s a six year course.”

    I usually drive the car to work, but this week I am taking the bus.”
    ‘drive’ is the present tense form – a statement of fact about a constant routine of mine.
    ‘am taking’ – ongoing action, for a limited time, with a beginning (start of the week) and an end (end of the week).

    Now –on websites where they explain the uses of the verb forms, you will see something like, , ‘we use the Present Continous to refer to actions which are incomplete’. But of course they are incomplete! – that is not the essential reason why we use this form of the verb. The action is happening and ongoing as I speak, starting before, and going on after the moment NOW as I speak. The action has to be incomplete, because as soon as it is ‘complete’ I cant’ use a present tense form – I have to speak in one of the past tense forms! I can only say “I am brushing my teeth" while I am doing so, so at that moment, the action is obviously incomplete. As soon as I’ve finished, I would refer to this event as, “I have brushed my teeth.”

    Again, you will see ‘we use the Present Continous to refer to fixed plans we have made for a future event.’ As in:
    “We are going to Hawaii next year.”
    This begs the question, so why not just use the Future tense?

    Right at the beginning of this thread, I referred to how, I, the speaker, locate events in time. I locate events in the (Simple) Past when they are before NOW, over and done with - they are no longer a part of my current/present reality. I locate events in the Future when they will occur after NOW….and…and I see them as quite separate, remote, outside my current/present reality. Let me explain that with some sentences:

    “I see the Jones’s are off to Hawaii for a couple of weeks. Oh, well, one day, we’ll go (we will go) to Hawaii too.”

    Can you see that for the speaker, this ‘event’, this hoped for holiday in Hawaii is seen as remote, not part of his current reality, floating way off in future space somewhere.
    BUT – let him walk out of a travel agent’s office with tickets in his hand and now, it is part of his life, has become part of his reality – even if the trip is a year away, now the speaker says, “We are going to Hawaii in 2010.” It is no longer an event remote and detached from him, but has become, from his perspective, part of his life.

    So, whether I use a Future form of the verb, or Present Continous, depends on how, in my mind, I view some event which will occur after NOW.

    That brings us back to 'refuses' and 'is refusing'. Let me give you a scenario:

    I am a land developer, wanting to build a big supermarket. I have all the land I need, except for one piece of land with a house on it...and the man won'lt sell. I have sent a man to persuade him, and he comes back and tells me, "He refuses to sell." If he saw his attempt as over, complete, final and in the past - fait accompli - he would say, "I asked him but he refused." Instead, he uses the Present tense form. He may have gone back several times to talk to the man, and each time, he refused. He doesn't see this whole matter as over, and so uses a present tense form. At the same time, the present tense form suggests he sees this as a 'constant', a permanent state of affairs, a stalemate, and so - unending. He believes, if he goes back again after telling me, the man will refuse, and will keep doing so at every future attempt. But wily businessman me replies:" So, he's refusing (is refusing) to sell, is he? Go back and mention that the plans for the supermarket mean that the great air-conditioners for the building in operation 24 hours a day are to be located the other side of his fence, next to this living room; and that the supply trucks for the supermarket will be pulling up and unloading and driving off midnight to dawn, the other side where his bedroom is. Then he'll sell soon enough!"
    I use the Present Continuous form because, 've haff vays ov making him sell'. This is purely a hiccough - a temporary situation, and that what I have suggested he do will bring this matter to an end!!

    I know, this is a lot to grasp, so ask all the questions you need to!
    Last edited by David L.; 24-Sep-2008 at 09:03.

  3. #3
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    Re: For WUKEN- Present & Present Continuous forms of the verb

    David - it looks like WUKEN found your posts.

    The Ask a Teacher area is so busy that posts disappear quickly on to page 2, then 3 etc.

    If you want to post something more permanent you could try posting it in the members' area where threads tend to be visible for longer before moving on to deeper pages.
    Red5
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    WUKEN is offline Member
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    Re: For WUKEN- Present & Present Continuous forms of the verb

    Hi!
    Thanks for David's clarification. It helps me a lot.I am clearer about the different tenses.Now I think I need to make more sentences by myself and read more articles to make sure that I have used all the tenses adeptly.
    Now I have some questions after reading the elucidation carefully.Let me set examples seperately.

    (1)e.g. Mary is talking to her friend at the first floor now (let's assume it's 11:00am ) .At the same time , Mary suddenly hears a big voice that her kid is tripped and falls down at the second floor.(It's 11:00am.)In the case, should Mary say to her friend(maybe It's 11:00:09 am ):I need to go upstairs. My kid falls down.or say:I need to go upstairs. My kid fell down.or both are wrong.

    (2) e.g. Alice is week because of flu and her friend invites her to her birthday party tonight.Alice would like to attend her friend's party but she is not so sure she will go or not because she still doesn't feel well.So she says to her friend:I will attend your birthday party if I feel better.I will let you know my decision by 5:00pm.Is it right?

    (3)e.g. Amy is very happy today.She is busy preparing something because she will go to a party tonight. It's very sure for her to attend the party tonight. So should she say:I am going to the party tonight so now I need to take a beauty nap.Is it right?

    (4) e.g. Patty will take an big exam tororrow.So she says to her mom: Mom, I need to go to bed early tonight because I take a big examination tomorrow morning.(a fact I am very sure) or Mom, I need to go to bed early tonight because I am taking a big examination .(fixed plan in the future)
    tomorrow morning.

    I am not so sure the sentences I made is completely right or not.
    Could you check them for me?
    Thanks a lot!
    Last edited by WUKEN; 26-Sep-2008 at 16:47.

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    Re: For WUKEN- Present & Present Continuous forms of the verb

    Great! Let's look at them.

    1. You present two possibilities:
    I need to go upstairs. My kid falls down.
    or
    I need to go upstairs. My kid fell down.

    Firstly, at 11.09, the event happened (a) before NOW, so is in the past AND (b) is, as far as the actually 'fall' , a completed action : he isn't still rolling down all the stairs!. So, a Present tense form is not appropriate.

    In considering 'fell', the simple Past, let's see what the speaker's perspective on this event might be by extending the sentences to suggest how they view it:
    (a) (I need to go upstairs.) My kid fell down. I'd better get back and make sure one of the other ones doesn't do any damage to himself . You can't leave kids alone for a second.
    or
    (b) I need to go upstairs. My kid has fallen down and I might need to call a doctor.
    BOTH past tense forms are correct. The difference is the mother's perspective on the situation. In (a), the mother sees the incident as over and done with. She's going back to make sure they don't get into any more mischief and hurt themselves.
    In (b), the incident happened, but for the mother, it is not over. the kid might be hurt, and need medical attention. For her, the consequences of the fall are still important and this whole situation will continue for her until she she sees that the fall did not cause any serious injury, and it becomes what she says to the father when he comes home: "Paul fell down today. Paul, you tell your Dad all about it."
    Last edited by David L.; 26-Sep-2008 at 17:08.

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    Re: For WUKEN- Present & Present Continuous forms of the verb

    I will attend your birthday party if I feel better.I will let you know my decision by 5:00pm.Is it right?

    Yes, that is correct.

    You tell me why this is also correct:
    I haven't been feeling well. I've been off work this week but I'm coming to your party tonight if I have to crawl on my hands and knees.
    As, similarly, so is your sentence correct:
    I am going to the party tonight so (now) I need to take a beauty nap.

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    Re: For WUKEN- Present & Present Continuous forms of the verb

    e.g. Patty will take an big exam tororrow.So she says to her mom: Mom, I need to go to bed early tonight because I take a big examination tomorrow morning.(a fact I am very sure)
    Correct. In her mind, the emphasis is on that Big Exam that is so much a part of her current life and so much on her mind right now, not some far off future event.
    or
    Mom, I need to go to bed early tonight because I am taking a big examination tomorrow morning..

    The sentence is also appropriate but NOT because it is a "(fixed plan in the future)"
    It is written in the Present Continuous form, and the perspective is more on the 'taking'. Here, 'taking' the exam is an action going on NOW - it started, say, when she sat down to study for it tonight; it continues, because part of 'taking' the exam means making sure she has a good night sleep; and will continue right up until she walks out of the exam room. It is an ongoing action, for a limited period of time, and has a beginning and end.
    Even though the exam isn't until tomorrow, she doesn't see this is as some far off remote event in the future. For her, she is right in the middle of the whole business of studying, resting, going to the exam centre, and writing the answers - they are all part and parcel of 'taking the exam' for her, happening in her life NOW.

  8. #8
    WUKEN is offline Member
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    Re: For WUKEN- Present & Present Continuous forms of the verb

    Thanks for David's clarification!!!
    I am much clearer!!!
    You tell me why this is also correct:
    I haven't been feeling well. I've been off work this week but I'm coming to your party tonight if I have to crawl on my hands and knees.
    Hopefully, I don't misread what you mean.
    I think"I haven't been feeling well." means the feeling I don't feel well is still ongoing as I speak from sometime in the past until NOW.

    "I've been off work this week ." means until now the state I am off work is still not over, maybe will go back work soon or maybe not.It depends on how I have been feeling.

    "but I'm coming to your party tonight if I have to crawl on my hands and knees."
    means going to your party has been my schedule in my mind, it's probably 90% sure for me that I would go tonight even the moment I speak still don't feel good physically.
    Is my thought about the sentence right ?
    Also , could you correct my words of the usage what I typed if you think it's not appropriate.

    Thanks a lot!
    Last edited by WUKEN; 28-Sep-2008 at 10:53.

  9. #9
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    Re: For WUKEN- Present & Present Continuous forms of the verb

    You are spot on with your understanding of all the tenses I used!!!!

    Let's just look at this:
    "but I'm coming to your party tonight if I have to crawl on my hands and knees."
    means going to your party has been my schedule in my mind, it's probably 90% sure for me that I would go tonight even the moment I speak still don't feel good physically.


    1. means 'going to your party' has been my schedule in my mind

    You have grasped the meaning!. Let's rephrase it and spell it out a little more.
    means 'going to your party' has been part of the schedule in my mind since I was first asked to come to the party, and 'going to the party' as an ongoing action will continue until I arrive at your house and walk in the door.

    it's probably 90% sure for me that I would go tonight
    Actually, other than death, the sentence implies that I am 100% determined to go, 100% definite about going.
    HOWEVER, why do you think that 'how sure I am of this as I say it' is important and part of the reason we use/choose Present Continuous?
    I am not sure why you add this? Can you clarify for me what you had in mind when you typed it?
    Other than that...By George, you've got it!

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    WUKEN is offline Member
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    Re: For WUKEN- Present & Present Continuous forms of the verb

    Thanks for David's help!
    why do you think that 'how sure I am of this as I say it' is important and part of the reason we use/choose Present Continuous?
    I don't remeber that I typed that.
    Could you remind me when I typed it?

    Also,thanks for David's clarification.I have learned more words from your elucidation!
    Thank you very much!

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