Austin 拗四釘
The switching of the present tense when describing the past (repost) Please refer to the following question, which is the original one: Thanks to sudsey, who was kind enough to tell me that an example would make it easier, I then decided to repost the same question since I couldn't add anything to the original one and couldn't extend the deadline either. I didn't include an example because I had this impression that I heard it quite often and I thought it wouldn't be too hard for you guys to think of an example of your own. But it turned out I thought wrong. Sorry about that. I can't exactly recall and quote anything now so I'll just make up something by myself. Here goes: ...I came to her and saw her with a man. This man “has” a snake in his hand. I “can” see the fangs in the snake's mouth... Hope this example is a proper one and that you guys can help me out with this. Thanks a million to your time and patience!
Sep 16, 2008 12:51 AM
Answers · 3
Austin, Thanks for providing an example. It really helps. I disagree somewhat with Maidhc. I feel the use of the present tense to describe something which happened in the past it only a matter of personal style, at least in the example you provided. There is no rule to cover this. I think it may be called a "conceit" or some similar form of style. The past could easily have been used in your example, but it seems the speaker made the story slightly more personal by using the present tense to describe it. This is not wrong, but not often used. I hope this explanation helps.
September 16, 2008
Ok, I see what you mean. This is used when someone's talking about a past event but they're telling you part by part how it happened...does that make sense now? Imagine someone's under hypnosis and they're talking about a dream or vision they had. They would also relate to things they saw/did/felt in this way.
September 16, 2008
sudsey, I never said it was a RULE. I gave an example as to when it would be used instead of the simple past and that example would be more personal than simply talking about something that's happened in the past. Understand?
September 16, 2008
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