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    #1

    exceptional 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?


    With best thanks in advance


    Hucky

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    #2

    Re: exceptional tense usage

    Quote Originally Posted by Hucky View Post
    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).
    Firstly, we (the readers of this post) can't know whether this sentence doesn't express disaproval. It could--we need more context to know.

    Secondly, while it's true that we use the present continuous for repeated actions mostly when they irritate us, it's not necessary. Another example:

    Are you X-ing these days?


    where X stands for a verb describing a habit.
    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.
    The sentence stresses the fact that Shakespeare's desription still exists and is still valid. It says that the satisfaction of tyrannous lust was described by Shakespeare, and its current status is now 'described', thanks to that.

  1. engee30's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: exceptional tense usage

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Firstly, we (the readers of this post) can't know whether this sentence doesn't express disaproval. It could--we need more context to know.

    Secondly, while it's true that we use the present continuous for repeated actions mostly when they irritate us, it's not necessary. Another example:

    Are you X-ing these days?


    where X stands for a verb describing a habit.
    The sentence stresses the fact that Shakespeare's desription still exists and is still valid. It says that the satisfaction of tyrannous lust was described by Shakespeare, and its current status is now 'described', thanks to that.

    As for the first question - it goes either way, negative or positive. In this context, I'd assume that this is something that the author of the sentence finds admirable.

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