why in writtings we have to stay with the same time(grammar)

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roniy

Senior Member
ISRAEL: Fluent Hebrew ( Speak Russian, Learning English)
for example I bagin with past and continue with past. why i cant "switch" to present or something.

I always do writings like this but I dont know why


I am sorry if my question is stupid but I'm learning English and I want to know everything that I dont know that why I have a lot of questions.



thanks,
Roni.
 
  • helenduffy

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I don't understand your question. You wouldn't say or write in any language (I think) "The Six-Day War was in 1967. It will be an important event. It is a short war. " (past to future to present tense.)

    Also you CAN switch. We are constantly switching tense when we are referring to events that occur in different times eg. "Last year I visited California and next year I will visit Haifa, but today I am visiting Egypt."
     

    remosfan

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    You can also switch from past to present, when narrating events, to make things more vivid. This is very common in speaking, e.g. "This guy was walking across the street and then this other guys comes out of the blue and punches him." But I've also come across this in written fiction too. Just thought I should add that.
     

    GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Roniy,

    You've brought up a very complex subject for which there are no easy answers. Much of what you are referring to relies upon the context of what you are trying to write.

    The example given by remosfan is grammatically incorrect, especially in written English. However, that's not to say that one does not hear it as a part of everyday spoken language. The reason he says he has read this structure in fiction is because many fiction writers try to emulate what is considered to be "real" language as would be heard on the streets.

    I would suggest that if you have a question or two about a specific tense structure, you would be wise to post it here and we will do what we can to answer it.

    You might also look more up either on the web or in a book on English grammar, which will give you some basic guidelines to go by.

    Good luck!
     
    I think I know what ronjy is trying to say here. Somewhat gotten mysef caught into the same situation before.
    Example: Genesis Rebollos won third place in the Science Quiz Bowl that her school has conducted last May 3, 2005. (and all else in past tense).
    When I tried giving the article a title, I used: Student wins 3rd place in Quiz Bowl.
    When I showed my mentor the article, she said nothing about it - but when she saw the title, she told me that I should have maintained with the past tense. This has happened approximately 10 years ago! I never found out the reason why. (Maybe some of you can tell me). But my article won and placed fourth in the contest. (Come to think of it, I might have landed the 3rd or 1st place if I used past tense in my title? hmmm..).
     

    remosfan

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    GenJen54,

    I wouldn't say my example is ungrammatical so much as it's restricted to certain styles, some of which, by the way, are very literary and not inspired by the language of the street. Actually, I shouldn't say my example itself (there's at least one obvious mistake in it), but using the present to indicate past events is a fairly well-established practice. Then again, I may have misunderstood what aspect of the sentence you see as ungrammatical.

    But I agree with you there are no easy answers.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    meili said:
    I think I know what ronjy is trying to say here. Somewhat gotten mysef caught into the same situation before.
    Example: Genesis Rebollos won third place in the Science Quiz Bowl that her school has conducted The present perfect is incorrect here because you designate a specific time. last May 3, 2005. (and all else in past tense).
    When I tried giving the article a title, I used: Student wins 3rd place in Quiz Bowl.
    When I showed my mentor the article, she said nothing about it - but when she saw the title, she told me that I should have maintained with the past tense. This has happened approximately 10 years ago! I never found out the reason why. (Maybe some of you can tell me). But my article won and placed fourth in the contest. (Come to think of it, I might have landed the 3rd or 1st place if I used past tense in my title? hmmm..).
    Without further context, I would have to disagree with your mentor. The present tense is much more common in titles, even when the title refers to an event in the past. Just take a look at newspaper headlines.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    remosfan said:
    GenJen54,

    I wouldn't say my example is ungrammatical so much as it's restricted to certain styles, some of which, by the way, are very literary and not inspired by the language of the street. Actually, I shouldn't say my example itself (there's at least one obvious mistake in it), but using the present to indicate past events is a fairly well-established practice. Then again, I may have misunderstood what aspect of the sentence you see as ungrammatical.

    But I agree with you there are no easy answers.
    I think it's safe to say that "this guy comes up to me and says..." is ungrammatical. Think of a scholarly article - would the present be used there to refer to an event in the past? :)
     

    GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    As Posted by remosfan:
    "This guy was walking across the street and then this other guys comes out of the blue and punches him."
    Remosfan,

    This is the portion (bolded) of the sentence which I found to be grammatically incorrect. While stylistically, you are right, it can and does appear in fiction, that does not necessarily make it correct.

    I used the word "street" simply to describe where I might encounter a conversation, or story, such as this...in a very casual, conversation among friends where grammar is not necessarily adhered to. I did not mean "street" in the "gang" or inner-city sense of "street" language.
     

    jacinta

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Wow, GenJen, you are describing how many of us speak. I use it all the time, especially when I describe an event that gets my hair up.
    I was standing in the express line in the grocery store and this woman comes up, cuts right in front of me and to top it all off, she had at least 20 things in her cart. I was so mad! And do I say anything to her? Being me, of course not. That's what makes me so mad.

    When I'm telling a story, all grammar goes out the window! Now, I am fully capable of telling the story completely in past tense, as it should be. But, to me, it loses effect because I am putting myself right back in the moment. It's more fun!

    This may not answer roniy's question, but I will back you up on the spoken and informal use of the language. We do it all the time.
     

    GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Originally Posted by Jacinta
    all grammar goes out the window! Now, I am fully capable of telling the story completely in past tense, as it should be. But, to me, it loses effect because I am putting myself right back in the moment. It's more fun!
    You are absolutely right, Jacinta. English-speakers do this all the time, especially in colloquial story-telling. I think by bringing our language "into the present" (i.e. I was at the store, and this weird lady comes up to me...), we are very much "reliving" the story in its once "present" moment and in doing such, also engaging our listener and bringing them along with us.

    It's a deviation from grammatical norm. I think for me, it just sounds more odd than it really is.

    We could just as easliy say something like: "I was at the store when this weird lady came up to me..." However, in this construction, you are not "reliving" the moment as it was happening (in your mind's eye). You've already put in into the past.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    GenJen54 said:
    Originally Posted by Jacinta[/QUOTE]all grammar goes out the window! Now, I am fully capable of telling the story completely in past tense, as it should be. But, to me, it loses effect because I am putting myself right back in the moment. It's more fun!

    You are absolutely right, Jacinta. English-speakers do this all the time, especially in colloquial story-telling. I think by bringing our language "into the present" (i.e. I was at the store, and this weird lady comes up to me...), we are very much "reliving" the story in its once "present" moment and in doing such, also engaging our listener and bringing them along with us.

    It's a deviation from grammatical norm. I think for me, it just sounds more odd than it really is.

    We could just as easliy say something like: "I was at the store when this weird lady came up to me..." However, in this construction, you are not "reliving" the moment at it was happening (in your mind's eye). You've already put in into the past.
    Agreed. The present tense definitely adds a dramatic effect that the past tense does not offer.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There is one thing that really irritates me every morning when I hear our local radio news headlines.
    Everything is reported in the present tense. Man bites dog; Tony Blair wins popularity contest; Three kittens are rescued from a tall tree; Colobus monkey escapes from the zoo; General flies back to front; Raindrops are falling on my head...... you know the kind of stuff.
    But at least they stick with the same tense:D

    OK for dramatic effect, from time to time, but in this context it is plain daft.
     

    GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Originally Posted by panjandrum
    There is one thing that really irritates me every morning when I hear our local radio news headlines.
    Everything is reported in the present tense. Man bites dog; Tony Blair wins popularity contest; Three kittens are rescued from a tall tree; Colobus monkey escapes from the zoo; General flies back to front; Raindrops are falling on my head...... you know the kind of stuff.
    Ah, yes, Panj, but this harkens back to the old journalistic credo of the five "Ws":

    Who?
    What?
    When?
    Where?
    Why?
    How? (It's not a "w," and it is the "sixth" question, but it got tagged onto the end to make the mneumonic complete!) :eek:

    In journalism, "timlieness" and creating a sense of urgency is of great import. Afterall, you don't want to read "yesterday's news." It's so "old hat." You do, however, take an interest in what is going on "NOW! AT THIS MOMENT!" So, when "Prime Minister Switches to Green Tea" and "Posh Leaves Becks for Orlando Bloom," you'll want to read/hear/see all about it FIRST/HERE/NOW!!!

    I agree. It is daft. But, it keeps their ratings afloat and their advertisers happy!
     
    GenJen54 said:
    Ah, yes, Panj, but this harkens back to the old journalistic credo of the five "Ws":

    Who?
    What?
    When?
    Where?
    Why?
    How? (It's not a "w," and it is the "sixth" question, but it got tagged onto the end to make the mneumonic complete!) :eek:

    In journalism, "timlieness" and creating a sense of urgency is of great import. Afterall, you don't want to read "yesterday's news." It's so "old hat." You do, however, take an interest in what is going on "NOW! AT THIS MOMENT!" So, when "Prime Minister Switches to Green Tea" and "Posh Leaves Becks for Orlando Bloom," you'll want to read/hear/see all about it FIRST/HERE/NOW!!!

    I agree. It is daft. But, it keeps their ratings afloat and their advertisers happy!
    Now, this brings me back 10 years ago. (I should have told this to my teacher! Click Me!
     
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