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While + simple present Options
luckyguy
Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 3:09:48 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 12/25/2015
Posts: 252
Neurons: 1,378
I have heard that you have to use either the present or past continuous in a dependent clause that starts with "while".

Is it possible to find a context in which you can use the simple present? I am going to make up a few similar sentences below.


(1) While I do my homework every day, I watch TV.

(2) While I do my homework, I always watch TV.

(3) While I do my homework, I watch TV.



Can I use the simple present in (1) and (2) because the actions are habitual? Is (3) wrong? Thanks a lot.
TheParser
Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 2:07:57 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/21/2012
Posts: 4,293
Neurons: 20,138
luckyguy wrote:


Is it possible to find a context in which you can use the simple present?




(3) While I do my homework, I watch TV.



Is (3) wrong?




NOT A TEACHER


I have checked my books at home and the World Wide Web.

I believe that it is accurate to say that

(a) Yes, it is absolutely possible to find the simple present. ("We mend shoes while you wait"; "Whistle while you work.")

(b) No, your sentence is NOT "wrong."

i. Here is just one example: "I like listening to music while I do my homework." (That scholarly book is Cambridge English Prepare! (2015) by Joanna Kosta and Melanie Williams. Courtesy of Google "Books.")
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 8:37:21 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 26,242
Neurons: 139,836
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hello luckyguy!

The Parser has given his experience of American Engish (though I think the reference he gave was British).

I agree with what he says (from my British viewpoint).

Your sentences are good.

I think that I would normally say #3 'the other way around' - "I watch TV while I do my homework.", but that is just an alternative - grammatically they are the same.

********
It is quite common with two different subjects with the simple past - as you say, the simple present would be used for habitual/repeated actions. Also, the simple present can be used for orders and suggestions:
"You light a fire while I put up the tent."
"John ordered the food while Mary found seats in the restaurant."



I have been thinking as I worked on another job - it is very normal to 'mix present tenses' with 'while'.

"I am eating while I read." - "I am reading while I eat." - these both describe the same current, in-progress action, not a habitual one.



Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
TheParser
Posted: Friday, July 14, 2017 8:34:22 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/21/2012
Posts: 4,293
Neurons: 20,138
NOT A TEACHER


Dear (very) Advanced Learners:

1. "In the doctor's waiting room, I usually read a magazine while I wait/am waiting to be called."

a. Until I read the OP's question, I had probably used either verb without thinking very much about the matter.
b. Yesterday, however, I was able to find a source that now gives me the confidence to definitely choose one of those verbs as preferable.
c. The source's theory is somewhat complicated, so I shan't try to explain it, lest I misstate the user's theory.
d. If this topic interests you, you will have to google it and study it yourself (very) carefully.

2. I DO, however, have the confidence to share just 2 points about the user's theory.

a. Both verbs are grammatically correct.
b. There is, however, a big psychological difference between "wait" and "am waiting." In other words, the verb that you choose to say (or think to yourself) can make a big difference in how you view the situation.

That's all I dare say.


*****

Go to Google and type: "while they wait" Stack Exchange



*****

P.S. Stack Exchange is one of the Internet's many grammar advice websites. The source's name is "user6951." It was posted on February 9, 2015. I will always be grateful to "user6951" for extending my knowledge of this magnificent language.


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