present tense or past tense

Mike12345

Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2014
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
China
Current Location
China
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!
 

teechar

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
Iraq
Current Location
Iraq

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
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....
 

GoesStation

No Longer With Us
Joined
Dec 22, 2015
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
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.
 

Mike12345

Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2014
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
China
Current Location
China
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!:)
 

Mike12345

Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2014
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
China
Current Location
China
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.
 

teechar

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
Iraq
Current Location
Iraq
Because of the sentence "it is about". "It" refers to the book and, the book [STRIKE]is[/STRIKE] 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?
 

Mike12345

Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2014
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
China
Current Location
China
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!
 

teechar

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
Iraq
Current Location
Iraq
I thought "laughs" and "smiles" need to be in the present simple to keep the tense consistent, [STRIKE]cohenrence as the word "is",[/STRIKE] so I did not underline them [STRIKE]it.[/STRIKE] 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.

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.
 
Top