I've heard and used this a lot but was wondering why and is it even correct.

When you are in a conversation with your mates and you are telling a story and when you try to quote someone, you say

"and he goes 'Oh, I run marathons, too'. "

Why do we use present tense there? Can it be

"and he went 'Oh, I run marathons, too'. "

Is it a grammatically correct English?

  • 3
    This isn’t about quoting people – it’s just the historical present (also called the dramatic present or the narrative present). It could just as well have been, “And then he takes out his phone and snaps a photo” instead. There are a few questions about the historical present on here; this is more or less a duplicate of What is the historic present tense?, though the answer given there isn’t stellar. Aug 12, 2019 at 16:01
  • That makes sense! I read the definition on Wiki! Thanks Aug 12, 2019 at 18:53
  • He goes is an informal, almost slang, idiom. It has nothing to do with tenses per se. It's a set phrase, and can be used to mean either he says or he said. Strangely, he went is also used—although it's difficult to not interpret that one in the past tense specifically. Aug 12, 2019 at 21:36
  • Wait so is it because it's a slang or a historical present? @JasonBassford Aug 14, 2019 at 17:07
  • @GoldSkullwithPattern To me, if something is an idiom, that trumps everything else. However, it's certainly possible to look at it both ways. And I can't quite class this as an idiom, because it's context dependent. If it's not followed by speech, then normal grammar applies: He goes to the store. Aug 14, 2019 at 21:56