"Over the coming months, the giraffes range far and wide." BBC - Giraffes released into new home (see:3:18-3:23)

As we know, "Over the coming months ...." clearly refers to future, so you would expect it to be followed by something like "Over the coming months, the giraffes are going to range ..." however, the speaker is using a simple present tense after it.

Why might that be?

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    We often use Simple Present to refer to future actions - He starts a new job on Monday, I leave for London tomorrow,... In your cited context, it's quite natural to use Simple Present to add "immediacy". Dec 27, 2023 at 15:40
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    It's not in the future, anyway – the narrative was presumably written after the filming was completed. An alternative phrasing might be "Over the next few months the giraffes ranged far and wide." Dec 27, 2023 at 15:47
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    @WeatherVane: True, but "future in the past" Over the next few months the giraffes would range far and wide is also perfectly natural in the cited context (a nature documentary), where as with my previous comment, such choices of verb form emphasize "immediacy" by blurring the distinction between "now" (time of speaking) and the (past) time-frame being referenced. Dec 27, 2023 at 16:19
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    historical-present cannot be used as tag for this question, as that would make it seem the OP knows about historical present. (If the OP knew about the historical present, this question would have not been asked.)
    – apaderno
    Dec 28, 2023 at 8:20
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    @Lambie Was that addressed to you? No. Therefore, I didn't start to post comments addressed to you. You started to post comments addressed to me, probably to complain because you thought I down-voted your answer. I only replied to your comments.
    – apaderno
    Jan 1 at 20:09

2 Answers 2


If you were watching excerpts of a football match on the sports news, the news announcer, referring to an upcoming play, might say something like:

Watch how the center forward passes the ball between two defenders in this next play.

The events, in real life, have already happened, and the film excerpt has its own temporal context. There is no prediction involved, no intention, no "expression of futurity", merely an expression of what is known to occur.

Compare also a context like this:

What time does the train for London leave the station tomorrow?

-- Tomorrow, the train departs at 8:15AM.

What is being expressed is what is now expected to occur.

Present knowledge. Present expectation.

  • "referring to an upcoming play, might say something like:" No, that would be use of the present to refer to a play that was already made: Watch how the center forward passes the ball//not upcoming, past.
    – Lambie
    Jan 1 at 19:34
  • @Lambie: I am beginning to wonder about your reading comprehension skills. Read again.
    – TimR
    Jan 1 at 21:22
  • That use of the simple present is not the use of the simple present in the OP's question. That use by the BBC is present of narration aka historical present and is clearly a past situation.
    – Lambie
    Jan 1 at 23:22
  • @Lambie You simply do not read carefully enough for me to engage in any sort of meaningful dialogue with you.
    – TimR
    Jan 1 at 23:33
  • How can an upcoming play (a future occurence, even if soon) use the word 'passes", which you then qualify as having occured? That seems contradictory. Instead of making personal comments, try to understand what I am saying that makes those comments seem odd. I am a very careful reader and listener.
    – Lambie
    Jan 1 at 23:48

What is Historic Present?
Historic present (also known as dramatic present or narrative present) is the usage of the present tense to describe things of the past.

It is a stylistic device that is used in literature to make the story more vivid, immediate and exciting. It is often used to draw the reader into the experience of the story itself, making it more dramatic. The idea is to remove the story from its original time period to bring it to the present. In a way, this brings the story much closer to the reader.

narrative present

It's a literary device but is also used in descriptive writing in journalistic pieces.

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