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Here is the sentence:

You're looking for Bob. Nobody is sure where he is but you get some suggestions.

Why is get used?

I think it should be got or are getting. Please explain if that's right.

Update: This is from Murphy's "English Grammar in use". This text appears above a box where a person is asking where Bob is and people are replying with suggestions where he may be.

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Where did that sentence come from? –  Andrew Leach Nov 3 '12 at 19:40
    
That second sentence doesn't make sense. More context is needed. –  Ataraxia Nov 3 '12 at 20:15
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The present tense can be used for stories in English, although this is informal. It is usually used in the first person, and sometimes in the third person. For some reason, it seems to be used in the second person here. Things are related in the present tense as they happened. For example, "So I'm looking for Bob. Nobody's sure where he is, but I get some suggestions." would be fine when telling a story (about something that's already happened). It seems seriously strange in the second person, though. –  Peter Shor Nov 3 '12 at 20:19
    
@PeterShor: I don't think that using the 2nd person simple present is at all strange: A berates B's sloth-like life style: "Let me tell you what you do every day. You get up at noon, you eat your brunch, you belch a lot, and then you go back to bed until tomorrow. That's all you ever do. What kind of life is that?" –  user21497 Nov 4 '12 at 3:01
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@BillFranke Sounds like a pretty good kind of life to me. Beats working for a living. –  StoneyB Nov 4 '12 at 3:13

5 Answers 5

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Using second person in storytelling is quite rare; most stories are told in first of third person. The choice of second person in particular is meant to put the reader in place of the protagonist, a more cinematic experience, opposed to traditional storytelling.

If the author choose second person viewpoint, Simple Present is the primary tense used for mostly anything happening to or performed by the protagonist, unless they are reminiscing, planning or observing a state.

In case of role playing (as frequently practiced when teaching languages) the second person viewpoint is frequently used to instruct/introduce the "player" into their role, and same rules as with storytelling apply.

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Murphy uses "get" to set up the role-play situation for you; he's giving you instructions by telling a story:

You want to find Bob, but you don't know where to look.
You ask some people where Bob is, but they don't know.
However, you get some suggestions from some of them about where to look for Bob.

The third sentence could also be:

However, they give you some suggestions about where to look for him.

Simple present is used in story telling to give the prose a sense of immediacy. It is supposed to make the reader feel as if what's being said is happening at the moment of reading. The alternative is to use the future tense, but that takes more words, e.g.,

You will want to find Bob, but you won't know where to look, so you'll ask some people if they know where Bob is. They will say that they don't, and then you'll get[infinitive used to create future, not simple present tense] some suggestions from them about where to look for him.

The future tense instructions aren't as simple and easy to understand as the simple present tense instructions. That's all there is to it.

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In a narrative, sequential events are all cast in the same tense. (Sometimes a writer will shift the tense—for instance, a narrative in the past tense will be interrupted by a passage in the present for greater ‘immediacy’. Both fiction writers and historians employ this device. But generally most or all of any story will be cast in one or the other.)

Usually it's the past tense: He came. He saw. He conquered. But oral storytellers, and many contemporary writers, employ the present tense: He comes. He sees. He conquers. This usage is also favoured, as SF suggests, in roleplaying or in quasi-roleplaying exercises.

Your example is a narrative, and all the verbs are cast in the present tense: ‘You’re looking’ is present progressive, ‘Nobody is’ and ‘he is’ are simple present. So the final verb should be in the present as well—simple present, present progressive, present perfect, or what is sometimes called emphatic present. Any of these would be grammatically correct, but I suggest the emphatic present would be best:

You're looking for Bob. Nobody is sure where he is, but you do get some suggestions.

Do get, to my way of thinking, clarifies the contrast between the first clause and the last in that sentence: you don't get full answers, but you do get suggestions.

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Simple present tense is most grammatically correct here. I would prefer the verb have, as in "you have some suggestions," but it makes no difference. Here, get states the truth or fact - you get (have) them.

Is getting indicates the action is in progress and got in the past. None would convey the author's message.

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Here get and have don't mean the same thing. –  Peter Shor Nov 4 '12 at 17:12

Because "got" is past tense and "are getting" is present perfect.

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This answer is true, but it's non sequitur because it doesn't answer the question. If the OP were able to infer the meaning this answer wants to convey, the OP would not have needed to ask the question. –  user21497 Nov 4 '12 at 3:24
    
I don't think OP is providing enough details to answer the question, then - and all of these answers are hopes of striking upon the source of their confusion. The OP should then instead direct their attention to the ELL.SE proposal –  New Alexandria Nov 4 '12 at 3:58
    
I suspect that this is because you're not an EFL/ESL teacher. After 40 years in the business, and because I know Murphy's Grammar in Use very well, I don't need any more details. Knowledge about English usage is as much experience based as it is grammar-book based. There are plenty of legitimate usages that I'm unfamiliar with simply because I have no experience reading or hearing computer programmers or art historians or morticians use the language in ways that are common to their fields. That's normal, I think. When an EFL student asks a Q, however, I can fill in myriad details myself. –  user21497 Nov 4 '12 at 4:26

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