I have a question about the usage of the verb "coil". Could I use the present tense of "coil" to describe the present state of ivy coiled around something?

Could I write this:

Ivy coils around the column.

to mean the current state of ivy that is coiled (adjective state) around some column?

  • 1
    Yes, you can do that
    – DCShannon
    Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 4:14
  • In general, yes... except (assuming the ivy isn't actively in the process of coiling), it would usually be "coiled". The ivy was coiled around the column.
    – Catija
    Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 4:15
  • @Catija If the ivy is alive and growing, then it is actively in the state of coiling, but yeah, that would probably be a more common phrasing.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 4:15
  • 1
    @Catija It doesn't have to be magical. They grow while you watch them, just slowly. Here's a time lapse of a vine growing. They coil as they grow.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 4:19
  • 2
    @meatie: "the snake coils around its prey" and "the ivy coils around the column". Coiling is what they do, not what they are doing now, However, in certain narrative (storytelling) styles, the simple present can be used instead of the continuous for rhetorical effect.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 15:06

2 Answers 2


Yes, this is grammatically correct, and it is not an unusual usage at all. Using present tense in this way is often done when describing the current appearance of a building or landscape. As such, you'll primarily see it in writing describing the essence of a location or in real estate advertisements.

The ivy coils around the columns on the front porch, and the wide French doors connect a broad green lawn filled with children to a kitchen filled with the scents of baking.


Yes, that is grammatically correct.

It does sounds strange to use ivy as subject with an active verb though. It would be more natural to say the ivy is coiling or the ivy is coiled. Unless you're say writing an essay about about ivy, and you are really interested in the ivy more than anything else.

  • I don't agree that it sounds strange; ivy may not be the most speedy actor but it does grow and move over time. Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 15:44

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