Simple vs. Progressive Present

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Simple vs. Progressive Present

Postby Alexander Longacre » December 29th, 2012, 7:45 am

I'm having difficultly in translating present tense verbs into English. What kind of lexical, contextual, or grammatical clues can you use to determine if a present tense verb should be translated as simple present (I eat) or progressive/durative present (I am/do eat)?
Alexander Longacre
 
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Re: Simple vs. Progressive Present

Postby Stephen Carlson » December 29th, 2012, 8:31 am

Hi CalvaryHiker, you're going to have to contact an administrator to change your name, but until that happens let me address your question:

CalvaryHiker wrote:I'm having difficultly in translating present tense verbs into English. What kind of lexical, contextual, or grammatical clues can you use to determin if a present tense verb should be translated as simple present (I eat) or progressive/durative present (I am/do eat)?


This is basically an English grammar question. English divides up the work that the Greek present does among two (or three) constructions: a simple (I eat), a progressive (I am eating), and an emphatic (I do eat). The basic rule is that verbs denoting states use the simple present (I am, I have, etc.), while verbs denoting actions use the progressive if the action is specific / currently on-going (I am eating a banana) or the simple present if the action is general / habit (I eat bananas every day). There is also a narrative use of the English present, for (e.g.,) running sports commentaries (John hits the ball and runs to first base) or certain historical narratives.

While the meaning of the verb can tell you whether the verb denotes a state or action, only the context can tell you if an action verb is referring to a specific occurrence or to general occurrences and thus should be rendered with a progressive or simple present, respectively.

If you are translating sentences out of a workbook, you generally will not have enough context to determine what construction to use, so please follow your instructor's guidance.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
Stephen Carlson
 
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Re: Simple vs. Progressive Present

Postby Alexander Longacre » December 29th, 2012, 8:40 am

Stephen:

Thank you so much! So what I believe I am hearing you say is that stative verbs are typically translated with the helping word "be" (simple present) while action verbs are either progressive or simple present based on the general context from a temporal perspective. Therefore, without larger context it's impossible to know.

I appreciate the assistance!
Alexander Longacre
 
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Joined: December 28th, 2012, 11:01 pm


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