The now present and the futurate present

Today’s Calvin and Hobbes re-play:

In panel 2, Calvin produces a progressive clause in the PRS (I’m watching television), conveying a “now present”: ‘I’m watching television now’ (and so can’t come to the table). But his PRS progressive clause could also be a “futurate present”, announcing an intention or plan to watch television: ‘I’m going to watch television tonight’. And that’s the interpretation his mother gets, and disputes loudly.

One Response to “The now present and the futurate present”

  1. John Baker Says:

    I’m not sure that Calvin’s mother intends a futurate present here. I think she may be speaking normatively rather than descriptively (i.e., saying what Calvin should be doing, rather than what he is doing). This is supported by Calvin’s statement in panel four, “I’m at the table,” which clearly is a normative rather than descriptive statement.

    Even if I’m right, though, I think that’s an interesting observation on the futurate present and the opportunity for confusion and conflict.

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