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This is from an interview with Britt Robertson (American actress).

Q: You're the oldest of seven kids. What's that like?

It's hard. You know, they're all much younger than me and they're growing. Every time I see them, they've grown six inches. They're changing so drastically and I miss all of that. Just them as people, I miss being around to see them grow, but the great thing about being away is you learn to appreciate your family when you do see them. Every time I'm home, I'm trying to make the most of it.

Unlike the present simple tense, which is not necessarily related to the present time, the present perfect and present continuous are said to be related to the present time.

But in the sentences marked above, the present perfect (have grown) and the present progressive (am trying) are not related to the present time.

Is the relation between the present perfect/progressive and the present time merely coincidental?

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    Every time she sees her siblings, they seem to her to be six inches taller than when she last saw them (an exaggeration, obviously). Every time she goes home, she tries to make the most of her family's company. The statements are 'related to the present time' in that they describe what happens each time she visits her home. – Kate Bunting May 14 at 7:49
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    @KateBunting I think the present time is the time of utterance, not the time referenced in the utterance (e.g., the time she sees them). – listeneva May 14 at 7:54
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The use of present perfect tense of your first emboldened sentence is fine. Each time she sees her sibling something has already happened - they have grown 6 inches during the time since he last saw them.

Every time I see them, they've grown six inches.

(I hope this is not literal though otherwise she only needs to see her siblings about 9 times for them to be fully grown at 6ft)

The second sentence you highlighted is not though:

Every time I'm home, I'm trying to make the most of it.

This sentence doesn't sound right. "Every time" is used to reference specific occasions in both the past and the possible future, so the twice-repeated "I am" just doesn't sit with that. It really should be either:

Whenever I am home, I try to make the most of it.

or possibly:

While I am at home I'm trying to make the most of it.

It reads like a transcript of a spoken interview, and in colloquial speech people do make these kind of errors - sometimes because they don't know any better and don't have a grammar checker, but also because when you are answering other people's questions you are thinking on your feet and may not know how your sentence is going to end when you begin it.

  • Could you cite a reference for your proposition that the present progressive doesn't work with the fixed points in time? Also, do you think that the present perfect does work with the fixed points in time? – listeneva May 15 at 2:32
  • In your proposition, is the reason for the present progressive doesn't work with the fixed points in time because the points are fixed or because there are a plurality of fixed points, as opposed to a single fixed point? – listeneva May 15 at 2:34
  • @listeneva I've updated my answer regarding the present-continuous - hopefully I have explained it better. I feel it is mixing tenses. – Astralbee May 15 at 9:30
  • What do you mean "Every time I am home" is present-progressive? Isn't present progressive the same thing as the present continuous? – listeneva May 16 at 0:10
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It's not really a question of coincidence! To me, you are simply asking about two uses of 'present' tenses, which have occurred in a single spoken discourse - hardly unusual!

In the present perfect example, the hyperbolic action of growing 6 inches is observed in the 'present' as a completed (but noticeable NOW) action.

In the present progressive example, it can be understood as being used to express present intention, it doesn't necessarily mean it's in progress all the time she is at home. As Astralbee points out, the present simple could be substituted to express a statement of fact (again, not necessarily in progress all the time she is at home).

In summary, try not to take the relationship of 'present tense' nomenclature to the 'present' (in all its transience) too literally.

  • So do you think that the present progressive sentence is fine? – listeneva May 18 at 2:22
  • @listeneva yes, I do. It may not follow prescriptive grammar rules, but the present progressive is quite often used by native speakers to emphasise both habit and the repetitive nature of the habit (from this you will find the grammar rule of 'always'+ present progressive, as in 'he's always arriving late', 'she's always shouting') – mattxxx4 May 25 at 7:26

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