Community Web Version Now Available
Saeed Gharaati
Can we use" present somple" with "last night"? Here is an extract from the vampire diaries and I cannot understand why Matt uses present simple with "last night". [Matt and Elena talk about Vicki.] MATT: They're keeping her overnight to make sure there's no infection, but she should be able to come home tomorrow. ELENA: That's good news. MATT: Yeah. ELENA: Did you get in touch with your mom? MATT: Called and left a message. She's in Virginia Beach with her boyfriend, so. . .we'll see how long it takes her to come rushing home. ELENA: Vicki's lucky that she's ok. [ Stefan is sitting on a table revealing that he has been listening to their entire conversation.] MATT: I know, and now there's talk of some missing campers. ELENA: Did she say what kind of animal it was that attacked her? MATT: She said it was a vampire. ELENA: What? MATT: Yeah, she wakes up last night and mutters "vampire" and then passes out. ELENA: OK, that is weird. MATT: I think she was drunk.
May 22, 2013 5:12 AM
Answers · 2
That is a great question Saeed! I am not an English teacher, but I found a couple of references on the internet to using "present tense in the past". Of course in past tense, one would write "Yeah, she woke up last night and muttered "vampire" and then passed out." But instead, the writer, who is describing his personal experience, is writing in a style that puts you (the reader) with him in the story last night. I would say it is a style of writing that livens up the story. Here is another example: "Yesterday I am driving this motorcycle so fast and a dog runs in front!". Doesn't it make you feel like you are more involved in the writers story? - you are there! This "style" is very common in conversations in the US among young people who are relating their recent parties and escapades!
May 22, 2013
I agree with Phil. This is a special storyteller's use of the present. I think the official name of it is "historical present." It can also be called narrative or dramatic present. This particular kind of present is only used to tell a story that happened like you are there right now. "So I wake up this morning and I realize I have a final in one hour that I never studied for!" The person listening would respond with past tense: "What did you do?"
May 22, 2013
Saeed Gharaati
Language Skills
English, French, Persian (Farsi)
Learning Language
English, French