Present Simple Tense (page 1)


Present tenses are quite basic. So they must be very easy to use. Right? Well, yes and no.

Look at the text below. It is about a movie that Dave saw last night.
He uses present tenses throughout. Why?

Dave: I saw a great movie last night. It was called, Last Bridge.
Oh, I haven't heard of it. What's it about?

Dave: 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 she 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.
Elle: What a romantic story!
Dave: Yes, I guess it is. It is beautifully told.

Look 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 ...

Well, 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 lost touch. She found she was pregnant and had his child. He didn't know about it ...

He 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!