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  1. #1
    Mike12345 is offline Member
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    present tense or past tense

    Recently,I have read a story. Here is part of the story.

    A Christmas Carol is a famous novel written by Charles Dickens. It is about an old man named Scrooge who never laughs or smiles. He is mean and only thinks about himself, and doesn’t treat others nicely. He just cares about whether he can make more money. And he hates Christmas. One Christmas Eve, Scrooge sees the ghost of Jacob Marley, his dead business partner.

    I think the words undlined should be past tense, for the story happened in the past. I am not sure whether my idea is right or not, because the story is from a book used by teaching English. Could you tell me your ideas? Thank you!

  2. #2
    teechar's Avatar
    teechar is offline Moderator
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    Re: present tense or past tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike12345 View Post
    It is about an old man named Scrooge who never laughs or smiles.
    I'm curious why you didn't underline those, Mike.

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: present tense or past tense

    You can use the present for Dickens too in the same context even though he's long dead- in the book, Dickens gives his views....

  4. #4
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: present tense or past tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    We commonly give summaries of books, films, etc in the present tense. It is normal and natural.
    And it would be unnatural to use the past tense in the quoted text.
    I am not a teacher.

  5. #5
    Mike12345 is offline Member
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    Re: present tense or past tense

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post
    I'm curious why you didn't underline those, Mike.
    Because of the sentence "it is about". "it" refers to the book and, the book is still exist. So I thought there is no problem using present tense. What do you think? teechar!

  6. #6
    Mike12345 is offline Member
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    Re: present tense or past tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    You can use the present for Dickens too in the same context even though he's long dead- in the book, Dickens gives his views....
    How about this one: One Christmas Eve, Scrooge sees the ghost of Jacob Marley, his dead business partner. I don't think Dickens gives his view in this sentence but tells us the storyline which happened in the past.

  7. #7
    Matthew Wai's Avatar
    Matthew Wai is offline VIP Member
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    Re: present tense or past tense

    'The present simple is also used in narrations (e.g. to tell a story or a joke)'—quoted from http://www.englishtenses.com/tenses/present_simple#use7
    I am not a teacher.

  8. #8
    teechar's Avatar
    teechar is offline Moderator
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    Re: present tense or past tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike12345 View Post
    Because of the sentence "it is about". "It" refers to the book and, the book is still exists. So I thought there is no problem using the present tense. What do you think, teechar?!
    If "laughs" and "smiles" should be in the present simple, then surely those other verbs should be in the present simple too; isn't that so?

  9. #9
    Mike12345 is offline Member
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    Re: present tense or past tense

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post
    If "laughs" and "smiles" should be in the present simple, then surely those other verbs should be in the present simple too; isn't that so?
    I thought "laughs" and "smiles" need to keep cohenrence as the word "is", so I did not underline it. But I had the same idea as yours at that point. I was hestitate at that moment. You are a very careful teacher! Thank you!

  10. #10
    teechar's Avatar
    teechar is offline Moderator
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    Re: present tense or past tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike12345 View Post
    I thought "laughs" and "smiles" need to be in the present simple to keep the tense consistent, cohenrence as the word "is", so I did not underline them it. But I had the same idea as yours at that point. I was hesitating at that moment. You are a very careful teacher! Thank you!
    See above answers about choice of tense.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike12345 View Post
    I think the words underlined should be past tense, for the story happened in the past.
    Note that apart from limited usage in, e.g., poetry or songs, the word "for" is not used to mean "because" in contemporary English. Use, e.g., "because" or "since" instead.

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