When present simple is too simple

Bali’s unique culture and traditions lead to an enormous increase in tourism. As a result, the number of job opportunities grows significantly.

This is grammatically correct, but the choice of present simple tense has – I think – resulted in meanings quite different from those intended by the writer.

When you’re deciding which tenses to use, first of all you need to consider time frames. I would argue that in the example above there are two time frames, and neither of these are communicated using present simple tense!

  • The first time frame includes the increase in tourism (the cause).
  • The second time frame includes growth in the number of job opportunities (the effect).
For a comparison of tenses and their meanings, check out these animations illustrating present tenses, past tenses, and perfect tenses.

1. The increase in tourism

What can we say about the timing of the increase in tourism?

  1. It began in the past.
  2. It doesn’t matter exactly when it began.
  3. It may or may not have finished.
  4. There’s evidence in the present showing that there are more tourists now than there used to be.

To communicate these four meanings, you need present perfect tense:

  • Bali’s unique culture and traditions has led to an enormous increase in tourism.

2. The increase in the number of jobs

What can we say about the growth of job opportunities?

  1. It began in the past.
  2. It doesn’t matter exactly when it began.
  3. It’s likely to continue into the future.
  4. It doesn’t matter exactly when it will finish.
  5. Points 1-4 mean that it’s happening ‘around now’.

To communicate these meanings, you need present continuous tense:

  • As a result, the number of job opportunities is growing significantly.

Conclusion

In our opening example (above), the writer uses present simple tense only. This is fine, as long as the writer is trying to communicate one or more of the following meanings:

  • It’s permanent.
  • It happens regularly/frequently/habitually.
  • It is scheduled to happen at a future time.

I think you’ll agree that our writer did not want to communicate any of these meanings!

The use of present tenses is explained further in this animated introduction.

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