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    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 28
    #1

    Thumbs up Are there inconsistencies in this story?

    I came across the following english learning website on the subject of simple present tense:

    Present Simple Tense or "It never gets you anywhere" / ESL Lesson

    If you scroll half-way down the page, you will find a story written by Alan Townend «It never gets you anywhere». I believe Alan tries to demonstrate the usage of simple present tense and it confuses me as I read. Here are two examples I extracted from the story:

    "Fortunately he made it to the pub before the storm broke. The moment he crossed the doorstep an old schoolfriend comes up to Andrew, offers to buy him a drink and tells him not to look so worried. Andrew showed him the newspaper headlines...."

    Why using present simple tense to describe the series of events that happened when he crossed the doorstep ?

    "Everyone in the pub looks suitably depressed at this remark and begins to think of all the price increases that will follow. The gloom is palpable. Then suddenly the door bursts open and in walks our heroine, Sally looking like a drowned rat. Most people in the pub think to themselves: «What a pretty girl!» Andrew sees her as someone who is drenched and needs help. He walks over to her and asks if she is all right. For probably the first time in his life Andrew actually transferred his worry from himself to someone else and he mixes her a special drink to protect her from a possible cold. The conversation went as follows:....."

    Why use past tense at the last sentense ?

    Please help to explain why. Thanks!

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    #2

    Re: Are there inconsistencies in this story?

    When we're telling stories, we sometimes use the present instead of the past, often starting in the past, then changing to the present. I think it is to make the story seem more alive and interesting.


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 28
    #3

    Re: Are there inconsistencies in this story?

    Is there a standard guideline when to switch from past to present and vice versa in story telling ? In this story, the rules appear to be in freeform. If I were to write the same story ,I would use all past tense, would I break any grammar rules doing so? Sorry, I guess now I am getting even more confused.....

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      • British English
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      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
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    #4

    Re: Are there inconsistencies in this story?

    You won't be breaking any rules if you stick to the past.

    Often we set the scene of the story up in the past (I was coming to work this morning and this man got on the train) and then change to the present for the more interesting or important events (Then he turns to me and starts shouting his head off for no reason at all...).


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 28
    #5

    Re: Are there inconsistencies in this story?

    Tdol, I have to say thank you again as you always have a good explanation for my question.

    Now it makes sense to me as I imagine reading a story is like watching a movie. A paragraph is like sequence of a movie that tells something. I would use past tense to set up the background and then present tense to "show" things that happen in the sequence. I hope this makes sense........

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 57,934
    #6

    Re: Are there inconsistencies in this story?

    You've got it, Chibe_k.

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