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present or past tense: [it is sunny. you are sitting] vs [it was sunny. you were sitting]

Posted: Tue May 21, 2024 5:52 am
by ansonman
Suppose that you and your friends went to a public event last month. While all of you were there, you made some videos of them.

(1) (My friends and I are now watching one of the videos.) I say to my friends, "Look. It is sunny on the left side but you are sitting under a tree on the right side. Why didn't you sit on the left to enjoy the sun?"

(2) (My friends and I are now watching one of the videos.) I say to my friends, "Look. It was sunny on the left side but you were sitting under a tree on the right side. Why didn't you sit on the left to enjoy the sun?"

Some of my friends think (2) is correct because the past tense of the phrases "was sunny ... were sitting" is consistent with the past tense of the question "why didn't you sit....".

However, my other friends don't agree with them. They believe (1) is correct by saying that because you are watching the video right now, you can use the "historical present'' for " it is sunny and your are sitting". It is okay to ask the question "why didn't you sit..." in the past tense because you are talking about why you didn't do so when you were at the event.

Is it okay to use the historical present in the context where you are now talking about something in the video that happened in the past? Thank you for your help.

Re: present or past tense: [it is sunny. you are sitting] vs [it was sunny. you were sitting]

Posted: Sat May 25, 2024 9:40 am
by Alan
Yes, a historic present would be a perfectly acceptable substitute for a past tense in such circumstances.