Can I use present tense?

birdman

Senior Member
Taipei, Taiwan
As far as I understand, there are situations when it is allowed to use present tense to describe things actually happened in a past time frame, such as looking at a photo and telling the story, or talking about an exciting experience as if it is happening right now. And often I read in newspapers they quote someone’s saying using present tense, like "Xxxx says, '………'," which I do not quite understand why.

Are there other exceptions?
 
  • Mister Micawber

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    .
    It's called the 'historic present' or a reasonable facsimile thereof, and I think you have covered the uses reasonably completely. It is also common with verbs of communication in conversation: I hear you are going to Canada. My wife tells me you haven't called her recently. It is also used in history texts: In Hamlet, Shakespeare presents his most compelling tragedy.

    The use in journalism serves the same purpose: it makes the past event more immediate for the reader.
    .
     

    okey-dokey

    Senior Member
    English / UK, London
    As far as I understand, there are situations when it is allowed to use present tense to describe things actually happened in a past time frame or plans for the future, such as looking at a photo and telling the story, or talking about an exciting experience as if it is happening right now. And often I read in newspapers they quote someone’s saying using present tense, like "Xxxx says, '………'," which I do not quite understand why.

    Are there other exceptions?
     

    birdman

    Senior Member
    Taipei, Taiwan
    Thank you all.

    For your amusement: I guess you native speakers have no idea how hard it is for we Orientals to get used to the tense concept. In our languages, the verb tense used for sentences like “He takes it,” “He took it,” “He has taken it” and “It is taken” are all the same, no difference. And just when we finally realized that past tense is used to narrate past events, there is this "historic present" thing. :)
     
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