English vs. Greek/present

yochanan bitan-buth ButhFam at compuserve.com
Sun Aug 13 06:23:53 EDT 2000


>I wake up
>I get dressed
>I eat breakfast
>I brush my teeth

These are 'habituals' in English and not really present at all. They can be
true even when you are NOT actually in the process of doing them. 
You instinctively understood this because you added:

>If someone was there while I was doing these things, and asked me at 
>appropriate intervals what I was doing, I would respond:
>I am waking up
>I am getting dressed
>I am eating breakfast
>I am brushing my teeth

These are actual  'presents' and would be false statements if you were not
in process of doing the stated activities (or about to be doing them) at
the time of speaking. 
This is a common point of confusion for many because their 'gwamma book'
may call English 'I wake up' a "present tense" (which it usually isn't) and
may call English 'I am waking up' something else like 'progressive' (when
it functions as the simple present).  

Greek  uses its 'present indicative' for both the present and for
habituals. and you are aware that 'present
subjunctive/imperative/infinitive' is a misnomer based on morphology for
'IN-PROCESS subjunctive/imperative/infinitive'

Randall Buth

>I don't know if these "-ing" words are participles or gerunds .

For the record, the -ing form in compound verbal forms 'am waking up',
etc., are called 'participles'.
When used as NOUNS, i.e. referring to the verbal idea as an 'abstract
thing' (like the Greek infinitive in KALON ESTIN TO ARISTHSAI), they are
called 'gerunds' in English, e.g. " 'EATING BRUNCH'  IS NICE". 
These words like 'verbal', 'nouns', 'participles' or 'gerunds' are
"metalanguage", or language being used to describe itself. It helps for
students to keep metalanguage about the language separate from the
languages themselves and to become aware that they are a
second/additional/outside/analytical level of thought when approaching
communication. e.g. notice that this message is in English 'about Greek'
and is not itself Greek. 

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