Statement is as follows:

Obama makes a surprise visit to Afghanistan.

Is this a simple present tense? If yes then please explain

As per the definition of simple present tense, this statement does not fall into any of the following categories:

  1. For repeated or regular actions in the present time period.

  2. For facts.

  3. For habits.

  4. For things that are always / generally true.

This statement is one of the headlines in the New York Times.

  • 5
    It matches 2) at least once. Also, newspapers employ certain space-saving conventions for their headlines; this includes a heavy reliance on the present tense when describing past events. – Erik Kowal May 25 '14 at 20:02
  • 2
    There is only one present tense, and it is simple, and this is it. Makes can only be simple present tense. As per the definition of simple present tense, it refers only to form, not to usage. The English present tense has many uses, sometimes including some cases of your 1-4 above. But those categories are badly stated and counterexamples are easy to find. Throw away the book where you found them, because they are false and will lead you into confusion. Definitions are made up by schoolteachers; they are not complete and often ignorant. – John Lawler May 25 '14 at 20:59
  • 1
    ... unlike anglers. – Edwin Ashworth May 25 '14 at 23:08

This use of the present tense is called "historical present" or "narrative present". Used in journalism or other narrative (including conversation) to make a past event more dramatic or vivid.

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