Source (YouTube video): Five Things That Happen to Astronaut's Body during Year in Space

Transcript (right at the beginning of the video):

We're right over Australia and it’s the middle of the night there right now.

Astronaut Scott Kelly is currently in the middle of his yearlong mission in space. Here are five incredible facts about his time on board the International Space Station.

During the course of his stay, the astronaut's estimated 180 pounds of solid waste will be jettisoned and, upon reentering the atmosphere, burn up in a bright meteorite-like display. His feces eventually looks like shooting stars.

I showed this sentence (the entire paragraph, actually) to two native English speakers and they both said that the sentence sounded totally fine to them, but I still don't understand why this sentence is in the present simple tense. Isn't it something that will happen to his stool in the future since the narrator is talking about things that WILL happen to astronaut Scott Kelly and he even uses the future tense to say that? Plus, we have the word eventually there which almost always goes hand in hand with the modal will. To me, it sounds more natural to say: His feces will eventually look like shooting stars. Now, I'd like to hear your thoughts on this with some solid explanation to back them up.

  • Faeces is plural, so look in the quote is wrong. If you're asking about the omission of will then I advise clearing up that obvious inconsistency. Sep 28, 2015 at 14:25
  • @AndrewLeach I disagree. "feces" may be plural but it's discussing a single mass of them, so I argue it's singular. It's like saying "This broccoli is delicious"... you're not talking about a single stalk of broccoli but the serving of it on your plate.
    – Catija
    Sep 28, 2015 at 14:34
  • Using broccoli as a mass noun is fine, because mass nouns are not plural; they are always singular. If feces is plural then it cannot be a mass noun and take a singular verb. Sep 28, 2015 at 14:37
  • It's always plural for me, but it seems there are speakers who find singular agreement acceptable as well.
    – user230
    Sep 30, 2015 at 7:42

1 Answer 1


Yes, this can be seen as a mildly questionable usage. OTOH, the slip into present simple tense is a common narrative device to bring the reader/listener along into the scene with the narrator.

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