Feeling tense about tenses? Fear not. We'll massage that confusion right out of you.
|3rd Grade||Language Arts|
|Elementary and Middle School||3rd Grade|
…the past tense is for events that happened in the past… [Girl dressed like a caveman]
…and the future tense is for events that will happen in the future. [Girl dressed as a robot]
Whoever named these things definitely deserves a trophy. [Dino and Coop with a trophy]
Maybe the, "Most Obvious Names" award.
But what about events that take place in fiction?
Turns out we have a special tense just for that: the literary present. [Red Riding Hood next to the wolf]
We know, we know…more tenses? [Coop looks depressed]
Don't worry, we'll make learning this feel as nice as a Swedish massage. [Coop getting a massage]
The literary present is really just a special form of present tenses.
So…why do we need it?
After all, any time you read a book, you know it was written in the past. [Guy using a typewriter in a dark room]
…unless you're creepily looking over the author's shoulder as they write it. [Lightning flashes and shows someone behind the man]
Plus, some stories take place way in the future, which is definitely not the present…
…no matter how futuristic your robot vacuum might seem. [Cat lying on a robot vacuum]
But rest assured, Shmoopers, there's a good reason for this new tense.
People who study literature think of stories as alive and present. [A book flies out of a mans hands and says happy birthday]
Whenever someone reads a story, that story comes to life.
What we mean is that when you read a story, the events of the story seem like they're happening
in real time to you, the reader. [Girl imaging the Little Red Riding Hood story]
Let's see how this literary present works with an example.
Say we're trying to describe one of the first parts of Alice in Wonderland: when Alice sees [White rabbit jumping away]
the white rabbit with the pocket watch, and chases after him.
Since the literary present is a present tense, we describe the event as if it were happening [Coop pointing at a blackboard]
right now, in the present, with a sentence like this: "Alice sees a white rabbit with
a pocket watch, and chases after him."
So all in all, the literary present is actually pretty easy to use! [Girl smiling in the classroom]
Definitely easier than catching a rabbit who's late for an appointment. [Girl looks shocked as the rabbit jumps past her]