Saturday, February 21, 2009



I admit Simple Present Tense is not the ideal tense to begin with.I wish I could begin with Present Continuous which some call the real present. Simple Present is too complicated a tense for ESL learners to learn and use properly.It is too hard for them to conceptualize .For one thing Simple Present does not indicate present time as the name would have us believe.On the contrary, it involves the present , past and the future.When someone says "I read news -papers every day" , the person need not be reading any paper at the time of speaking.He simply means that he is in the habit of reading news-papers.

What does Simple Present actually indicate?According to traditional grammar it is used to indicate universal truths and habitual actions.These terms ,I am afraid, are too vague and inadequate to serve the needs of ESL learners.What they need is explicit statements.I think the traditional grammarians were so hypnotized by the beauty of Latin grammar that they sometimes forgot to see reason! Latin was not a spoken language and so its grammatical features lent themselves to rules succinctly expressed.English , on the contrary, is the living language of a dynamic people and so its linguistic features can not be fully expressed in rules.Only explicit statements can describe the grammatical features of English.These facts, alas , were ignored by traditional grammarians!

I would like to re-phrase the traditional grammarians' universal truths and habitual actions and re-state them as follows:

Simple Present tense indicates

1. quality, property or ability of persons or things
2.regularly repeating actions
3.fixed emotional attitudes.
5.eternal truths as in proverbs and aphorisms
6scientific truths and objective facts
7.behavioral patterns and tendencies of things ,both animate and inanimate.
8.uninterrupted actions and states
9.What one does as trade or profession
10.dramatized events as in news-paper captions.

I am giving below a few sentences by way of illustration:

1.Honey tastes sweet (quality)
2She sings sweetly(ability)
3.Christmas comes in December.(regularly repeating actions)
4Adog wags its tail to show friendliness.(behavior)
5She likes classical music.( attitudes)
6.Pride goes before a fall.(proverb)
7.The earth rotates on its axis.(fact)
8She teaches music in a school(trade)
9.He gets up at 6 o'clock(habit)
10.Hundreds perish in flash floods (news-paper caption)

Dear readers, I will continue the discussion in my next post

Thank you

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