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"SIMPLE PRESENT EXPRESSES HABIT"

In the beginning of learning English tense, we students in young days had to accept the injudicious process to fill in the 'right' tense:
Ex: Tommy (go) to school every day.
== Even on internet, today one can easily find many such exercises to help children to understand the first step of English tense.
In school, teacher will help students a bit, I am sure. "Do you see the meaning of a habit here? Yes? Good. So we fill in Simple Present, because Simple Present expresses habit." And students will do it accordingly. They usually don't ask much.

But I don't know about Adult Education about English. I estimate an adult would have enough common sense to ask, “if from the sentence I have already seen the meaning of habit, why shall we redundantly use Simple Present to say it again?”

The adult is right in hitting the point. It is redundant to use Simple Present to repeat what has been already implied by the sentence. As most learners don't know, this is the first step to error. To be worse, after the adult has to accept the idea of using Simple Present to express habit, in later days she or he will totally forget that, at the very first, we have understood Habit based on the sentence, rather than on the tense. In all discussions over internet, people completely ignore the role of sentence, as we discuss the tense. I have always pointed out and proven that, as we think we talk about the meaning of a tense, we are actually discussing the meaning of the sentence.

TS
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Comments  
Hello, TS.
I've read your post three times now, and I swear I still don't get it.

You say:
"I estimate an adult would have enough common sense to ask, 'if from the sentence I have already seen the meaning of habit, why shall we redundantly use Simple Present to say it again?'"

I find that particularly confusing, so my comment about that sentence may be incorrect.
But I'm going to comment anyway. You tell me if I'm wrong, ok?

A teacher should never take things for granted. You cannot simply "decide" what your students have or haven't understood. They are learning something that is new to them, so you are not treating them like idiots when you explain things, even if you think you may sound redundant.
In the particular case I'm referring to, the students' mother tongue was Spanish. And that made the "redundant" explanation not really redundant, but necessary. Why? Because in Spanish we don't use the Simple Present only to express habit (that applies to English too because there is something called "historical present" and it does not refer to habit, but that's another story). We often use the Simple Present to refer to an action that is taking place at the time of speaking (that is, we use the Simple Present in the same way you use the Present Progressive in English).

There are other parts of your post I don't understand, such as:
"It is redundant to use Simple Present to repeat what has been already implied by the sentence. As most learners don't know, this is the first step to error."
What exactly does "this" refer to, please? What is the first step to making mistakes?

You also say:
"... at the very first, we have understood Habit based on the sentence, rather than on the tense."
That is unclear to me too. You say the student has understood habit from the sentence itself, not from the tense used. But, the tense is part of that sentence.
"He goes to school every day" is not the same as "He will go to school every day" or "He went to school every day". Each of these sentences will be meaningful in the right context. It is true that all of them express habit, but the time reference varies (present, future and past). So tense does make a difference.

Would you please explain your post to me in a different way?

Thanks,

Miriam
Miriam,

May I ask, what is the use of Simple Present tense?

TS
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Hmm... what did I get myself into?

The Simple Present has several uses:
1. Universal statements in which no reference to time is implied:
"Two and two make four."
2. Habitual statements:
"We go to Ireland every year."
3. Sometimes it refers to an event taking place at the moment of speaking:
"Here comes the winner."
4. Future reference:
"The plane leaves for Chicago at 8 pm."
5. In conditional sentences and time clauses:
"If it rains, I'll stay home."
"When you arrive, I'll fix dinner."
6. 'historical present':
"The Korean war breaks out in 1950, shortly after the end of WW II."

Perhaps there are some other uses I don't remember or that I don't even know of.
I agree, however, that the Simple Present is presented as *** tense for habitual actions when it is first taught to a group of beginners.

Miriam
> Hmm... what did I get myself into?
>
My reply: A little trouble. Emotion: wink

> The Simple Present has several uses:
> 1. Universal statements in which no reference to time is implied:
> "Two and two make four."
>
My reply: So do other tenses, for example:
Ex: Two and two have made four since I know about arithmetic.

> 2. Habitual statements:
> "We go to Ireland every year."
>
My reply: So do other tenses, for example:
Ex: We went to Ireland every year when we were young.

> 3. Sometimes it refers to an event taking place at the moment of speaking:
> "Here comes the winner."
>
My reply: So do other tenses, for example:
Ex: I am discussing with you about Simple Present tense.
Ex: I have lived in Hong Kong for the last ten years.

> 4. Future reference:
> "The plane leaves for Chicago at 8 pm."
>
My reply: So do other tenses, for example:
Ex: I was going to buy some beef for dinner.
Ex: I will go to Chicago next week.

> 5. In conditional sentences and time clauses:
> "If it rains, I'll stay home."
> "When you arrive, I'll fix dinner."
>
My reply: So do other tenses. All tenses can be used in time clauses.

> 6. 'historical present':
> "The Korean war breaks out in 1950, shortly after the end of WW II."
>
My reply: So do other tenses, for example:
Ex: JFK was assassinated years ago.

In short, you haven't told the correct use of Simple Present. Why? As I have explained in the beginning, it is the sentence that denotes such things as habitual action:
> "We (go) to Ireland every year."
== The brackets mean that even without the tense, we still see it is a habit from the sentence alone.
Denoting habits, therefore, has nothing to do with tense. We have past habit, present habit, and future habit, but why do you just say that Simple Present denotes habit?

So do other functions of Simple Present. Why did you just talk about Simple Present? Why didn't you say other tenses can also do the same?

TS
I regret to tell you that it's not me who's got into trouble here. And I'm afraid I'm not going into too much detail here, TS.
The only thing I can say is that I chose the wrong post to respond do.
Some of the examples you provide are not really good for the explanations that accompany them, and several are certainly NOT examples of the uses of the Simple Present I provided. But then again, I just don't feel like correcting all that. I'm sorry, but I don't see a point in doing it.

I will mention just one more thing, in hopes that you will understand what I mean here.
You made the first post here, and it was about the Simple Present. So I see no reason to come up with other tenses. It just doesn't follow any logical reasoning.

Also, every time you say "so do other tenses"... well, I've never said you cannot use other tenses in the sentences provided. But I fail to see why you are deviating from the toic you suggested yourself. And you must notice that the meaning of those sentences will vary according to the tense used. That is a very very basic concept, and it is previous to any grammar awareness; it's simply a matter of common sense.

For example, "Two and two make four" has nothing whatsoever to do with "Two and two have made four since I know about arithmetic." Your sentence is not a true statement and it has grammar mistakes, which perhaps isn't really important in this case. What is important is that yours is not an example of a "universal statement with no time reference"; the tenses you use do not truly replace the Simple Present, they make reference to time and they even change the meaning of the original sentence. The same applies to the other examples you provided.
I'll have to be more selective in the future.

Good luck! Emotion: smile

Miriam
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Miriam,

In your opinion, why we can say the three tenses at the present:
I eat dinner.
I have eaten dinner.
I ate dinner.

I guess that I will not change my routine "I eat dinner", which is always true and with no time reference, so I shouldn't say "I have eaten dinner", but it seems we can. Would you tell me why?
I might be wrong, but you seem to confuse the concepts of "time" and "tense".
"Time" is a universal concept in the sense that units of time are extra-linguistic, they exist independently of the grammar of any particular language.
"Tense", on the other hand, is the language-specific category which we use to make linguistic reference to time.
Time and tense are two different things; related to each other, of course, yet different.

You may not like the use of tenses in English, but I suggest you follow the general rules if you wish to communicate with others effectively in that language.

That's the only thing I can say. I can't answer your questions because I don't understand your post. I won't ask for clarification this time, though, because the first time I did, my request went unnoticed.

Miriam
Then thank you very much Miriam.

Please don't answer a thread you don't understand. Emotion: smile
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