1

There's a phrasal verb "to spring from", one of the meanings of which is to appear suddenly and unexpectedly. Looking for the example sentences with it, I noticed that it's used in questions put both in the past and, much more rarely, the present tense.

So, my question is this:

What might the author's choice depend on when they decide in favor of the use the past or the present tense for the question to be put in?

The examples:

“Where did you spring from? I thought you were out of town.” “I've just got back. I looked in on you to see how the land lay.”

Where did you spring from?” Ex-Major Ferdinand Sellars leaned his large-boned frame in the doorway and grinned at Alec in satisfaction.

Where did you spring from?' 'From that alleyway.' She pointed over her shoulder.

Where do you spring from? How long have you been in Paris?”

Where do you spring from? Who are you--anyhow? How many of you are there in that boat?"

And where do you spring from with such great strength and unknown purpose?

I may be mistaken, but my gut feeling tells me that the use of the present is somewhat obsolete, like "Where do you come from?" is dated in comparison with "Where are you from?" I wonder whether there may be other explanations.

2
  • 2
    Two quotes of the present tense form I found were The Channings (Mrs Henry Wood, 1862), and The Works of Lucian of Samosata Translated by HW and HG Fowler, 1905). (Yes, that HW Fowler). So possibly somewhat old-fashioned. – Michael Harvey May 10 at 17:50
  • @MichaelHarvey, since nobody seems to have any better idea, could you make it your answer just to get the "accepted answer" points and for me to mark the question "solved"? There're other places to seek for a more or less detailed answer should I feel like doing it. What you wrote is just about enough for me, which is as good as a feast regarding the lack of any interest from other users:) – Victor B. May 11 at 11:56
1

Two quotes of the present tense form I found were in The Channings (Mrs Henry Wood, 1862), and The Works of Lucian of Samosata Translated by HW and HG Fowler, 1905). (Yes, that HW Fowler). So possibly somewhat old-fashioned.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.