The Use of Present Tense for Geographical Details
Note that geographical details are in present tense.
Japan is an island nation in north-east Asia. Is Korea in north-east Asia? There are four main islands in Japan. Is Korea an island country? There are four main islands in Japan but there are also many small islands. Are there any islands in Korea? The largest island in Japan is Honshu. Is Taiwan an island nation? The capital of Japan is on Honshu. What is the capital of Japan? Is the capital of Korea on an island? What is the capital of Taiwan?
The Details of the Story in Past Tense
The verbs in past tense are in bold type.
There was a big storm in Japan. Are there earthquakes in Japan? The storm was off the coast of Japan. Is Tokyo on the coast? A plane was at the airport. Was there any luggage on the plane? There was a young Japanese woman on the plane. Was she excited? She was a student. Was she very tall?
The plane took off. Was it a Japan Airlines flight? The weather was very windy. Was the sky cloudy? The wind blew and the plane shook. Are there typhoons in Japan? The young Japanese woman looked out the window. Was she nervous?
Weather and Geography
Did you notice the sentence:
Are there typhoons in Japan?
was in present tense?
The Story Continues in past simple tense ..
The plane flew south. Which country is north of Japan? The plane flew past Taiwan. Which country is west of Taiwan? The Japanese student looked down at the sea. Was the sea rough? There was a ship on the sea. Was it a Chinese container ship?
Did you notice the question:
Which country is west of Taiwan?
It is another geographical question so it is outside the time sequence of the story and it is in present simple tense. The answer is:
Mainland China is west of Taiwan.
Flying over the Philippines …
The plane flew over the Philippines. Is the Philippines an island nation? The Japanese woman looked out the window at the view. Is Manila the capital of the Philippines? The plane continued south. Is Taiwan south of the Philippines? Where is Hong Kong?
More Geographical Questions
Did you notice the geographical questions:
Is the Philippines an island nation?
Yes, it is.
Is Manila the capital of the Phillipines?
Yes, it is.
Is Taiwan south of the Philippines?
No, it is not. It is north of the Philippines.
Again the question and answer are in present simple tense because they are outside the realm of the fictional story. They are general questions which are factual. They are geographical questions.
Papua New Guinea
The plane continued to fly over the Pacific Ocean. Was the weather still windy? The plane flew past Papua New Guinea. Is Papua New Guinea an independent country?
See the geographical question?
Is Papua New Guinea an independent country?
Yes, it is.
The plane approached Australia. Is Australia part of Asia? The Japanese woman ate her lunch. What was it? Was there anybody in the seat next to her? The Japanese woman ordered a drink. What was it? She drank her drink. Was it cold?
Did you notice the geographical question in present simple tense?
Is Australia part of Asia?
Arriving in Australia
The plane crossed the coast of Australia. The weather was very rough. The plane shook. Was the woman afraid? The plane came in to land. What was the name of the airport? There was an accident. Was there a fire?
More Information about the Interactive Stories Technique
You can imagine the answers to the questions in the story but geographical questions are fixed. They are in present simple tense and the answer does not change. They are facts.