Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 20

Thread: Tense confusion

  1. #1
    undeddy is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    91
    Post Thanks / Like

    Tense confusion

    When we introduce some new recent information we use Present Perfect, then in case we continue to speak about events concerned with this info we normally use Past Simple instead of Perfect.

    Can this rule be applied to Present Simple and Present Continuous like this:

    'They are sitting around the table. They eat, drink and chat.'

    Or we must use Continuous in all the cases?

  2. #2
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    16,570
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Tense confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by undeddy View Post
    'They are sitting around the table. They are eating, drinking, and chatting.'

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    73
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Tense confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post


    • They sit around the table. They eat drink and chat.
    • They are sitting around the table. They are eating drinking and chatting.
    • They sit around the table. They are eating, drinking and chatting.
    • They are sitting around the table. They eat, drink and chat.


    These are all grammatically "correct".



    Why would a speaker choose one and not another?



    It depends on their communicative goals. Think about your native language. For almost anything you say or write, your goals and the context in which you are communicating determines what options you choose. Those options include, but are not limited to, vocabulary, grammatical forms (like verb tenses), and intonation patterns.

    Without more context it is impossible to suggest one of the alternatives above as being the right one. Remember, we use language to influence peopleís behaviour. Itís a communicative tool and there is no communication without context.

    A good long term strategy for learning English is to think about grammar ďrulesĒ more as guidelines, that shape and influence your word choice, but donít determine it, because in almost any situation you have more than one choice anyway.

    I hope that helps.

    Matthew Balson
    www.competence.es

  4. #4
    undeddy is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    91
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Tense confusion

    Thanks.

  5. #5
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    16,570
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Tense confusion

    A: What do they do there?
    B: They sit around the table. They eat drink and chat.

    A: What are they doing?
    B: They are sitting around the table. They are eating, drinking, and chatting.



    There is always context. Without context there is no meaning.



  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    44,174
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Tense confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by competence View Post
    Itís a communicative tool and there is no communication without context
    While I agree with what you're saying, this approach to language seems a bit decontextualised itself by trying a one-size-fits-all approach for all learning contexts, and there are places where the word rules appearing in inverted commas and possibilities coming like buses and depending on context wouldn't automatically work.

    I am not trying to criticise your post, but the use of inverted commas in grammatically "correct" did interest me. In much of where I am living, education is very rudimentary, schools often lack basics like water and staff, classes can be packed in the capital with two or three times the number of students allowed as people send there children from the countryside to the city in the hope that they will receive better schooling, while predatory degree mills and other dodgy or crooked educational con-artists vacuum up scarce private financial resources and spit out worthless certificates. In rural areas, the teacher may only be intermediate level themselves. I think that there are many contexts where there is still of lot of use and mileage in rules and the idea of correctness: oversimplification to one, clarity to another.

  7. #7
    Teia is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • Romanian
      • Home Country:
      • Romania
      • Current Location:
      • Romania
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    1,885
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Tense confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    While I agree with what you're saying, this approach to language seems a bit decontextualised itself by trying a one-size-fits-all approach for all learning contexts, and there are places where the word rules appearing in inverted commas and possibilities coming like buses and depending on context wouldn't automatically work.

    I am not trying to criticise your post, but the use of inverted commas in grammatically "correct" did interest me. In much of where I am living, education is very rudimentary, schools often lack basics like water and staff, classes can be packed in the capital with two or three times the number of students allowed as people send there children from the countryside to the city in the hope that they will receive better schooling, while predatory degree mills and other dodgy or crooked educational con-artists vacuum up scarce private financial resources and spit out worthless certificates. In rural areas, the teacher may only be intermediate level themselves. I think that there are many contexts where there is still of lot of use and mileage in rules and the idea of correctness: oversimplification to one, clarity to another.
    Very interesting statements here. Tdol, be so kind and explain the underlined words to me please. I tried hard to understand, I twisted my brains but finally I gave up trying. `Vacuum up` is a verb here? If so I think I am on the right side of the road of knowledge
    What does `con-artists` mean here?
    Thank you very much in advance.

  8. #8
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    16,570
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Tense confusion

    Can you think of any context in whicn 3 and 4 make sense?




  9. #9
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    16,570
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Tense confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by Teia View Post
    Very interesting statements here. Tdol, be so kind and explain the underlined words to me please. I tried hard to understand, I twisted my brains but finally I gave up trying. `Vacuum up` is a verb here? If so I think I am on the right side of the road of knowledge
    What does `con-artists` mean here?
    Re:
    while predatory degree mills and other dodgy or crooked educational con-artists vacuum up scarce private financial resources
    Those people take money from people under the pretense that they will be able to teach them English. (There are all kinds of con games.) They take money that can ill-afford to be spent on worthless ventures. Once that money is spent it cannot of course be unspent. It has been thrown down a rat hole.



  10. #10
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    16,570
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Tense confusion

    Can anybody come up with any context for either of these:
    They sit around the table. They are eating, drinking and chatting.
    They are sitting around the table. They eat, drink and chat.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 09-May-2008, 13:18
  2. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 17-Apr-2008, 09:51
  3. Tense and meaning confusion.
    By DrJ in forum General Language Discussions
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 10-Jun-2007, 16:27
  4. Tense and meaning confusion.
    By DrJ in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 07-Jun-2007, 23:17
  5. Past tense confusion
    By joeuconn in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 06-Mar-2005, 05:21

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •