Can you use tenses illogically as a stylistic choice?

This was the seed of your undoing.

This mistake will end up killing you.

There's a tense mismatch between the first and second sentences. Can you use the past to say something is inevitable?

1 Answer 1



But you run the risk of confusing your reader.

For me, the act of writing is in service of communication. As such, I have to more-or-less know what I want to say (and perhaps I will after several revisions). I have to know who is on the other side of the conversation; that is, who I hope will be reading and understanding what I have written. Knowing all that, I have to choose the language, style, vocabulary, and so much more that will make the conversation work.

In simple terms, if the reader understands what you intend for them to understand, you are golden.

Find one or more representatives of your intended audience. Show them your work. See if they understood what you wrote, or at least intended to write. Have a conversation about what worked for them and what did not. Adjust and revise accordingly.

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