"Ask her to wait a moment - I am almost done. " Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855), while working, when informed that his wife is dying.

Why can we use "die" in the present progressive tense?

closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, MetaEd, Matt E. Эллен, tchrist, Mitch Oct 12 '12 at 14:59

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.


I think your question is based on the assumption that verbs in progressive tenses must denote actions that have 'intermediate' or 'middle' states. But this is not true. The following are examples of verbs in progressive tenses that, like 'dying', do not describe an action that can be thought of as accumulating or proceeding little by little:

The clock is striking midnight.

As we speak, a nuclear bomb is going off in an underground test facility.

"What is he doing?" "He is breaking the car window."

  • You are so smart to interpret what in my head was. Thank you! – kiss my armpit Oct 12 '12 at 5:12

The use of present tense in historical narrative is very common. It is known as the historical present. (Wikipedia)

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