Present tenses are quite basic. So they must be
very easy to use. Right? Well, yes and no.
at the text below. It is about a movie that Dave saw last
He uses present
tenses throughout. Why?
saw a great movie last night. It was called, Last
Elle: Oh, I haven't heard of it. What's it
Well, there's an Australian
soldier. He is fighting
in Vietnam in the 1960s. He meets
a Vietnamese woman and falls in
love. Then his unit is sent
back to Australia. In Vietnam his lover's village is
bombed and she flees.
They lose touch. She finds
is pregnant and has
his child. He doesn't know
about it. Two years later he goes
back to Vietnam searching for his lover. He doesn't
find her. After many months of searching he
gives up. The day he is
due to board the plane back to Sydney he stops
off at a noodle shop in Hanoi. He glances
out the window and sees a
woman with a young child. It is
her. He tries to rush out
to talk to her, but he is pushed
back by the crowd in the noodle shop. He finally gets
outside and looks around
desperately. He sees her
disappearing over the horizon. He rushes
up and finally catches
up with her on a bridge. He is
overjoyed to find her and to discover that he
has a son. A plane passes
overhead. The sun sets
and they walk over the
bridge holding hands.
What a romantic story!
Dave: Yes, I guess it is. It is beautifully
at the tenses that Dave used when he was telling the story.
Some of them have been highlighted in blue. Dave could have
told the story using past tenses ...
there was an Australian
soldier. He was fighting
in Vietnam in the 1960's. He met
a Vietnamese woman and fell in
love. Then his unit was sent
back to Australia.
In Vietnam his lover's village
was bombed and
she fled. They
touch. She found she
was pregnant and
child. He didn't know
about it ...
chose to use present tenses because it makes it sound more
exciting. It sounds like it is happening now.
We can imagine that we are watching the story happening
in front of us. We often tell stories in the present
because it makes it sound more exciting and more immediate.
Newspapers often use present tenses. They could use past
tenses, but then it would sound like old news!