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In storytelling: do you normally use the simple past or the present simple?

If both are possible, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me some examples?

Thank you.

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teal limeIn storytelling do you normally use the simple past or the present simple?

It's the same as in everyday conversation. Depending what you say, you may need to use any of the many tenses of English.

Written stories are usually about what happened. So you can expect the past to be used quite often, but the same is true of everyday conversation. You often want to tell your friends about what happened.

teal limeWould you please give me some examples?

Read this story (link below). Find which tenses are used and in what circumstances they are used. There are almost always particular kinds of things we say that go in the present tense and other kinds of things we say that go in the past tense. I think you can guess this without reading the story, but read the story to confirm your suspicions.

https://www.storynory.com/how-anansi-brought-wild-animals-into-the-world/

CJ

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Most stories (either about real events that happened in the past or about fictional events) are written or told in the past tense. Sometimes historical events are narrated in the present tense, in a style called the "historical present". This quickly becomes very tiresome, and I do not recommend it. Occasionally fictional stories are written in the present tense. This style is supposed to give immediacy to the narration, but, again, it very quickly becomes annoying to read.

Short informal conversational present-tense accounts of past events ("I go into the room, and who do I see there but old Whatshisname and his wife. So I go up to them and ...") may be more tolerable, but they still have a certain stylistic feel that some people may feel is inferior.

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CalifJimbut the same is true of everyday conversation.

Do you mean that you normally use the simple past for telling stories of everyday conversation?

Again, many, many, thanks for your kind help.

P.S. Is it correct to write "telling stories of everyday conversation" or should I have written, "telling stories about everyday conversation"?

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teal limeDo you mean that you normally use the simple past for telling stories in everyday conversation?

Yes. Don't you? I think it's the same in all languages, isn't it?

Suppose you're telling someone that two days ago one of your friends fell off a ladder and broke his arm. Do you say that in your language as "My friend falls off a ladder and breaks his arm two days ago"? Or "My friend is going to fall off a ladder and is going to break his arm two days ago"? Emotion: tongue tied

CJ


It occurs to me that maybe you're concerned about cadde vs è caduto (fell) and ruppe vs ha rotto (broke).

We don't have that difference in English. We use the same tenses in written stories as in the stories we tell in everyday conversations.

(Ignore this part if it's not what you're concerned about.)

CJ

Dear CJ:

Would you please answer my P.S. question? Thank you.

I thought I answered it in red. Is there something else you wanted to know? Have I misunderstood the question?

CJ

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CalifJimIt occurs to me that maybe you're concerned about cadde vs è caduto (fell) and ruppe vs ha rotto (broke).

Your Italian translation and distinction are almost perfect. You need only to change "ha rotto" with "è rotto" as in "Giovanni è caduto dall' albero e si è rotto un braccio (Giovanni has fallen off the tree and has broken his arm)".

Thanks again for your kind help.

I was just going for the non-reflexive "break" as in "broke a window", not translating that sentence specifically. Do I get points for that? Emotion: smile

But the question is whether that is something that lies behind your question about the tenses used in telling a story. Is it relevant to your question? Or not?

CJ

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