EN: Un jour, je nage dans la piscine

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by alex k, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. alex k Member

    Paris France
    French - France
    Hello,

    Can you tell me which is the correct tense to use in English when you write a fictional story and use I, simple or progressive present?
    For ex: I swim / am swimming in the pool, a man comes / is coming near,... ( There is little indication of time in the text except something like " on a sunny day in june...".

     
  2. alex k Member

    Paris France
    French - France
    Hello,

    In addition to my previous thread.
    Can you tell me which present tense to use in a fictional narration, when a verb marks a continuous action, for ex: " a landscape is unfolding, the birds are singing..." does it become simple present in a written story?
     
  3. Canard

    Canard Senior Member

    Portland, OR
    English, USA
    Isn't this more a grammar question than a translation question?

    On a sunny day in June, I am swimming in the pool. A man comes near.
     
  4. Broff Senior Member

    Maryland
    French
    Hi alex k,

    Would you like to give it a try? A quick look at a grammar book should give you an answer.
     
  5. alex k Member

    Paris France
    French - France
    Right Thank you. I thought using a present tense was more suspenseful for the reader but maybe it is not a good use?
     
  6. alex k Member

    Paris France
    French - France
    I have searched in my grammar but it does not give fictional stories as examples. It says we can use simple present in jokes or scenic descriptions but I do not know if it is the same with written stories.
     
  7. Haricot Very New Member

    Wisconsin, United States
    American English
    It's a stylistic choice. There's nothing wrong with writing in the present tense.

    But if you do, the two forms of the present tense in English are probably best off being used alongside each other in a manner similar to the "passé simple" and "imparfait" in French. For example:

    "Je nageais dans la piscine. Un homme approcha."

    "I am swimming in the pool. A man comes near."

    In other words, you can use one verb for background action, and one for dramatic action. You would not simply choose one or the other to tell an entire story. The progressive is used more often for description and the simple for actions that are not ongoing or habitual but serve to drive the plot.
     
  8. alex k Member

    Paris France
    French - France
    Right. Very big thanks.
     
  9. Dave1982 Member

    English
    Wow, everyone here is so good at both languages, it amazes me.

    Anyway, as an English speaker, I would say that "On a sunny day in June, I am swimming in the pool. A man comes near" sounds clumsy.

    Maybe I would write it as "It is a Sunny June day, and I am swimming in the pool. A man approaches."

    I have a feeling that it will always sound awkward when writing in the present tense, because most English literature I've read is in the past tense, however what you have is grammatically fine, really.

    I would probably disregard my help in favour of Haricot very's advice, however, because he's offered more towards a general structure for you.
     
  10. Broff Senior Member

    Maryland
    French
    It does depend on the context, you could use 'the birds are singing' in your story, it would indicate that the birds are singing at the moment of the action. If you use the present tense: the birds sing; you would have to qualify it: the birds sing every morning as I make my way to the bus station.
     
  11. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    The use of the present tense suggests that this is a permanent habit or state.

    On a sunny day in June, I swim in the pool (= I have the habit of... whenever the sun shines)
    On a sunny day in June, I am swimming inthe pool (= ce jour-là mais pas forcément tous les jours)
     

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