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What tense should we use for giving online instructions?

Open your Kinlde application, click on the Cloud tab. Now, tell me what it's showing?answer: It is showing the list of the books.

Open your Kinlde application, click on the Cloud tab. Now, tell me what it shows? answer: It shows the list of the books.

Which one is more accurate?

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They are both fine. – Jim Jun 21 '12 at 4:47
up vote 0 down vote accepted

The present progressive construction of the first version typically describes what is happening at the time of speaking, so it would be appropriate in the context you describe. The present tense used in the second version typically describes what is always the case, but it, too would be appropriate here. There is, however, a subtle difference of emphasis. Because the present progressive construction describes a temporary state of affairs, it contains within it the suggestion that, in your example, what the screen is showing may change. The present tense of the second version doesn’t contain any such suggestion.

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My question was more like what would a competitive native speaker say in this context? – Noah Jun 21 '12 at 12:25
@Noah: Competitive? Do you mean 'competent'? Anyway, as always, it depends on context. – Barrie England Jun 21 '12 at 12:48
Yea, competent. sorry for that. But say you are on the line with Amazon and the lady is giving you the above instructions. How would you go about it? – Noah Jun 21 '12 at 13:34
@Noah: I'm not sure the conversation would go this way at all. – Barrie England Jun 21 '12 at 14:33
Now you are putting me in a tough spot. How would it go?:) – Noah Jun 21 '12 at 15:09

That's the same tense (present). The only difference is the first one uses a linking verb and the second uses an action verb. I'd go with the action verb.

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