Present tense as a zero tense

David Robert Palmer HoLogos at
Mon Nov 8 13:14:54 EST 1999

Dennis Hukel wrote:

<<When the Greek Present tense is not strictly dealing with present time,

the Present Progressive in English also has the flexibility for the 

hearer/reader to understand the intended timeframe from the context. The 

Present tense does not strictly deal with the exact point of present 

time anyway, in that this point is included in the duration of the act 

or state in view (and in the Historical Present, that "point of present 

time" may be in a past timeframe; likewise with a future timeframe, such 

as "I am going tomorrow").>>

I'm studying Greek, and am so glad this was discussed.  Very interesting 
post, Mr. Hukel.  I agree with this, that the English present progressive 
has the flexibility for the reader to understand the intended timeframe 
from the context.  As such, when I translated the gospels of Mark and John 
from Greek to English, I decided why not transfer all Greek present tenses 
into English present tenses and see how it turns out.  Well, it at first 
seems awkward in one way, because of the switches back and forth between 
past and present even within the same sentence.  But you get used to it 
quickly, and overall, it works fine, and just sounds like plenty real-life 
unsophisticated, uneducated English speakers I know.

There were only a couple instances where this did not work: in the gospel 
of John there were a couple places where the Greek present tense had to be 
put in a plain English future.  Others could be transferred directly to 
English present progressives like "I am coming," and clearly be understood 
as future.

Dave Palmer

HoLogos at

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