Community Web Version Now Available
Does such a tense exist? ((The historical present))
Aug 10, 2019 10:05 AM
Answers · 3
August 10, 2019
Yes, it does. The "historical present" simply means using the present tense to talk about the past. It is often used in casual storytelling and joke telling. It's also used by people with limited formal education who are not comfortable with complicated grammar. A storyteller often begins by using the past tense, and then slips into the historical present. It is as if the mind of the speaker and the listener travel back in time, and see past events from a viewpoint within the past itself. The US short-story writer, Damon Runyon, wrote most of his stories in the historical present. One of them begins this way: THE THREE WISE GUYS One cold winter afternoon I am standing at the bar in Good Time Charley's little drum in West Forty-ninth Street, partaking of a mixture of rock candy and rye whisky, and this is a most surprising thing for me to be doing, as I am by no means a rum-pot, and very seldom indulge in alcoholic beverages in any way, shape, manner, or form. But when I step into Good Time Charley's on the afternoon in question, I am feeling as if maybe I have a touch of grippe coming on, and Good Time Charley tells me that there is nothing in this world as good for a touch of grippe as rock candy and rye whisky, as it assassinates the germs at once. It seems that Good Time Charley always keeps a stock of rock candy and rye whisky on hand for touches of the grippe, and he gives me a few doses immediately, and in fact Charley takes a few doses with me, as he says there is no telling but what I am scattering germs of my touch of the grippe all around the joint, and he must safeguard his health. We are both commencing to feel much better when the door opens, and who comes in but a guy by the name of Blondy Swanson.
August 11, 2019
Language Skills
English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Persian (Farsi), Russian, Spanish
Learning Language
English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian, Spanish