Advanced grammar book by Martin tells me that I can use the simple present to highlight an event which is often used after past tenses and with a phrase such as all of sudden and suddenly. It says there it's commonly used in narratives and anecdotes.


I was sitting in the park, reading a newspaper when all of a sudden this dog jumps at me.

Why is it not jumped instead? Can I still use jumped? Since the book mentioned, "after past tenses" does it mean it applies to past perfect, past future, and other tenses involving the past?

1 Answer 1


While it feels like bad grammar, it's common in informal narrative style to change from the past to the present in order to to engage the audience more, by making them feel it's happening to them right now, similar to English newspaper headline style. It should never be used in anything formal, and really only sounds right when spoken.

The story can equally be told all in the simple past tense with no change in meaning. In writing this is usually better style.

It only applies to simple past timelines. Despite being in present tense, the meaning is still in the past.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .