Recently I saw the movie Kung Fu panda, and there was one interesting sentence with the present simple tense. Can it be called a diary future? Oogway summons Master Shifu and tells him, that he has had a vision and that Tai Lung will return. Master Shifu says that it is impossible because TAi Lung is in prison.Oogway says that nothing is impossible. Then Master Shifu sends Zeng to prison, asking to double the guard. Then he adds: 'Tai Lung does not return'. Doesn't it resemble the use of threatening shall?

2 Answers 2


Indeed it's possible that he means:

Tai Lung shall not return. (I will not let him.)

But I'm not sure as he could also mean:

No I do not believe that Tai Lung will return.

And to convey this he can use the present tense as an emphatic denial. An analogous example would be:

He does not know. He cannot possibly know. How can it be? Who could have told him?

  • Can emphatic denial be conveyed with Present Simple, if the meaning is future? where is your example taken from?
    – Fatimahon
    Feb 21, 2016 at 10:18
  • In your sentence Does not know is obviously present, unlike my sentence which is future in meaning.
    – Fatimahon
    Feb 21, 2016 at 10:28
  • @Fatimahon: My example was completely made up. But I'm a native speaker so I'm certain there are examples in the literature. Generally such unusual usages of tenses are found in first-person narratives.
    – user21820
    Feb 21, 2016 at 10:31
  • @Fatimahon: I agree that in my example the intended time is different from in your example, but it's really the same explanation, because the present tense is used in narrative simply to pull the audience into the scene to view it as if it is occurring right there and then. It is sometimes called the vivid/dramatic present, describing its purpose. But in my view it is nothing more than the bare verb, which is used whenever we just want to present the event all by itself. Consider "Everything that goes up must come down." where the use of the present tense is sometimes called gnomic/generic.
    – user21820
    Feb 21, 2016 at 10:36
  • Yes, it is similar to your last example, and the term gnomic present simple is excellent. Though in the cartoon it is rather difficult to perceive the sentence in such a way. I also thought about narrative present simple, but for me it was difficult to sense this sentence in such a way. Thank you for a very full and interesting answer.
    – Fatimahon
    Feb 21, 2016 at 11:12

The language in Kung Fu Panda does not reflect actual English usage.

The dialogue veers erratically between colloquial American speech, the stilted diction of old-fashioned translations and imitations of Chinese classics, and the imaginary dialect of bad ELL textbooks.

It's a deliberate attempt to reproduce the inadvertent comic effect of the subtitles in many American releases of Chinese action movies.

So it's really a waste of time trying to discern an underlying rationality or pattern in utterances like Tai Lung does not return: it's a joke, whose point is that nobody talks like this except characters in Kung Fu movies.

  • Maybe, it is so.But this cartoon has very positive characteristics in the respect of the plot in Russia. And I wouldn't say that the grammar of this cartoon is very bad. Of course I am not a native speaker. Your point of view was interesting for me. Maybe I will find another sentence with the same usage.
    – Fatimahon
    Feb 21, 2016 at 12:59
  • @Fatimahon I'm not suggesting that the dialogue is bad--quite the contrary, it's a very artful mixture of registers. But it's an artificial dialect, not "real" English. Feb 21, 2016 at 13:07
  • It is stylistcs, then. That sounds quite interesting. And why do you think he uses here present simple, not shall or will? Every grammatical structure used with some stylistical intentention can be explained. I am really interested in your opinion.I hope my English does not offend your feelings.
    – Fatimahon
    Feb 21, 2016 at 13:30
  • @Fatimahon In that particular instance I'd say the simple present mostly represents subtitle-style "learner's English" -- Like the Russified English in your question about Guardians, this is a playful misuse of English. These movies are sources to be enjoyed, not sources from which any knowledge of standard English usage can be derived without very careful attention to dramatic context. Feb 21, 2016 at 13:41
  • I understand what you mean, these sentences attracted my attention because they were not grammatical compared to 'classical' English grammar. Anyhow I find cartoons more interesting to watch than other films. But I've got one question from Battleship and Kung Fu Panda. The structures used in them are identical. I will try to post tomorrow.
    – Fatimahon
    Feb 21, 2016 at 13:49

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