Re: Present tense as a zero tense

From: David Robert Palmer (
Date: Mon Nov 08 1999 - 13:14:54 EST

Dennis Hukel wrote:

<<When the Greek Present tense is not strictly dealing with present time,

the Present Progressive in English also has the flexibility for the

hearer/reader to understand the intended timeframe from the context. The

Present tense does not strictly deal with the exact point of present

time anyway, in that this point is included in the duration of the act

or state in view (and in the Historical Present, that "point of present

time" may be in a past timeframe; likewise with a future timeframe, such

as "I am going tomorrow").>>

I'm studying Greek, and am so glad this was discussed. Very interesting
post, Mr. Hukel. I agree with this, that the English present progressive
has the flexibility for the reader to understand the intended timeframe
from the context. As such, when I translated the gospels of Mark and John
from Greek to English, I decided why not transfer all Greek present tenses
into English present tenses and see how it turns out. Well, it at first
seems awkward in one way, because of the switches back and forth between
past and present even within the same sentence. But you get used to it
quickly, and overall, it works fine, and just sounds like plenty real-life
unsophisticated, uneducated English speakers I know.

There were only a couple instances where this did not work: in the gospel
of John there were a couple places where the Greek present tense had to be
put in a plain English future. Others could be transferred directly to
English present progressives like "I am coming," and clearly be understood
as future.

Dave Palmer

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