ELA 3: Tenses and Literature

Feeling tense about tenses? Fear not. We'll massage that confusion right out of you.

3rd GradeLanguage Arts
Elementary and Middle School3rd Grade
LanguageEnglish Language

Transcript

00:23

…the past tense is for events that happened in the past… [Girl dressed like a caveman]

00:26

…and the future tense is for events that will happen in the future. [Girl dressed as a robot]

00:29

Whoever named these things definitely deserves a trophy. [Dino and Coop with a trophy]

00:32

Maybe the, "Most Obvious Names" award.

00:34

But what about events that take place in fiction?

00:36

Turns out we have a special tense just for that: the literary present. [Red Riding Hood next to the wolf]

00:40

We know, we know…more tenses? [Coop looks depressed]

00:42

Don't worry, we'll make learning this feel as nice as a Swedish massage. [Coop getting a massage]

00:46

The literary present is really just a special form of present tenses.

00:50

So…why do we need it?

00:52

After all, any time you read a book, you know it was written in the past. [Guy using a typewriter in a dark room]

00:55

…unless you're creepily looking over the author's shoulder as they write it. [Lightning flashes and shows someone behind the man]

00:58

Plus, some stories take place way in the future, which is definitely not the present…

01:02

…no matter how futuristic your robot vacuum might seem. [Cat lying on a robot vacuum]

01:04

But rest assured, Shmoopers, there's a good reason for this new tense.

01:09

People who study literature think of stories as alive and present. [A book flies out of a mans hands and says happy birthday]

01:13

Whenever someone reads a story, that story comes to life.

01:15

What we mean is that when you read a story, the events of the story seem like they're happening

01:19

in real time to you, the reader. [Girl imaging the Little Red Riding Hood story]

01:22

Let's see how this literary present works with an example.

01:25

Say we're trying to describe one of the first parts of Alice in Wonderland: when Alice sees [White rabbit jumping away]

01:29

the white rabbit with the pocket watch, and chases after him.

01:32

Since the literary present is a present tense, we describe the event as if it were happening [Coop pointing at a blackboard]

01:37

right now, in the present, with a sentence like this: "Alice sees a white rabbit with

01:41

a pocket watch, and chases after him."

01:44

So all in all, the literary present is actually pretty easy to use! [Girl smiling in the classroom]

01:47

Definitely easier than catching a rabbit who's late for an appointment. [Girl looks shocked as the rabbit jumps past her]