It feels awkward and confusing to speak specifically about the present -- e.g. "right now," "these days", "this very moment", etc. -- when writing in past-tense. For example:

"He mused about it; innocence seemed quite scarce around these parts these days."


She hadn't given a thought to the matter before this very moment.

The bolded words are what I see as the problem. Is this mixing tenses? Should I have used "those parts," "those days," "that very moment"? What would be the proper way of going about it?

  • I would make it a voiced statement and move everything into the relative present time: "Innocence seems quite scarce around these parts these days," he mused. (with or without quotes, depending on how you style thoughts in your narrative), but I agree that this question is better suited for the English usage stack.
    – Lew
    May 25, 2017 at 13:52
  • This is a good point, I thought about moving this awkward sentence into a voiced statement. In the end, I will probably just cut out or rearrange the strange wording somehow, taking both your comments to heart. Thanks!
    – Gigen
    May 26, 2017 at 9:43
  • To the person who flagged: Question about grammar are more or less off-topic here, but we generally allow questions about how to use grammar in your writing. The community will decide which this is with their votes. Jun 1, 2017 at 17:03

1 Answer 1


I'm slightly confused: you've used 'these' in two different contexts. The first usage is in the sense of location: 'here' as opposed to 'there'. The second occurrence references time: 'now' as opposed to 'then'.

I find nothing wrong with the usage.

However, on the broader scale (you'll have to read some of my other comments to fully understand the issue) adjusting for grammar and clarity alters both character and narrative voice. The example is a muse.

A Texas Sheriff in 1950's may muse: Since the Federal government set up that reservation Injuns are quite scarce round these parts these days.

The governer's wife: Injuns are uncommon around here now.

  • In non-fiction I will always put voice above grammar.
  • A very interesting point, thank you. I will certainly keep this in mind in the future :)
    – Gigen
    May 26, 2017 at 9:40

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