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Grammar: Historical Present

In the first episode of the first season, Chandler tells his friends about a very weird dream he had about his mom! Instead of using the Simple Past, however, he uses mostly Simple Present, in a use that’s sometimes referred to as Historical Present.

Martins Hewings, in the third edition of his Advanced Grammar in Use, has this to say about this use of the Simple Present:

We often use the present simple and present continuous in stories and jokes in informal spoken English to create the impression that events are happening now. This can make them more direct and exciting and hold people’s attention:

‘She goes up to this man and looks straight into his eyes. He’s not wearing his glasses, and he doesn’t recognise her…’

Below you’ll find both the video segment and an activity to help you explore this point with your students.

Friends – 001 – Historical Present – s01e01

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