I was watching a show and when a door opens, the next subtitle comes out.

Door opens

Using Present Simple shouldn't you use present Continuous?

Door opening

  • Presumably the soundtrack includes the sound of the door opening. It is described in the subtitles like a stage direction in a play, which always use the present simple (unless the action is a continuous one). – Kate Bunting Mar 26 '20 at 17:37

Present simple is used in the following cases:

1- to describe habits, routines and facts. 2- to talk about a schedules future event 3- To tell stories (particularly jokes) to make your listener or reader feel more engaged with the story.

I guess your question pertains to the 3rd use. sometimes we use present simple to engage the listener or the reader in what's going on in a scene or a story.

The man hears a crawling noise from downstairs, at first he thinks perhaps it's a mouse or something but the noise keeps getting stronger and closer to his bedroom door, suddenly the door opens and ...

in this extract from a story every event is described using simple present, we could use past simple, but that wouldn't engage the speaker as much.

we also use this "trick" (if you can call it that) in daily conversations we have, suppose you're telling your buddy about a time your car broke down and left you in the middle of nowhere, your description of the event would sound something like this,

My father-in-law and I were driving to his cabin for hunting, we're driving down this bumpy path, when the car suddenly starts making a weird noise. we stop and pop up the hood to see what's wrong. it turns out the there's something wrong with the engine ....

to make a long story short, when we're describing some event in the past, in order to engage the listener or the reader we substitute present simple for past simple and present continuous for past continuous.

so "the door opens" actually means "the door opened". present continuous is not used because in the "original sentences" past continuous was not used. Does it make sense?

  • And I think "the door opened" it's because of this: When intransitive, the subject is the thing that is opening: The door opened. It could imply that the door opened on its own, but not necessarily. The speaker may be leaving that information out because it is already clear from context or to create suspense. Or not? – Diego Mar 26 '20 at 17:40

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