Which one works more in this paragraph?

“Ruby was thinking hard, too hard for her own sake. She wanted to talk with him but it seemed like she wasn't able to. She wanted to caress his hand, to show him how much she cared about him. She was desperate for something so banal, she thought how absurd was the situation I can touch him right? I mean we're a couple, we're in a romantic relationship...so...why, even when I touch him, I feel like I'm doing something wrong? However, she hadn't/wasn’t let/letting her emotions show on her face.”

She hadn’t let her emotions show on her face.


She wasn’t letting her emotions show on her face.

  • 1
    I would go for the latter, if it's about not showing emotion during this paragraph. If it refers to an early paragraph/event during which she didn't show emotion and the not-showing-emotion has ended by now, then the former is appropriate. -- Speaking of appropriate: questions on what to write or how to phrase things aren't on-topic for this community.
    – user54131
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 16:20

2 Answers 2


Slighly different tenses, the one that fits in the paragraph is "wasn't". "Hadn't let" could infer that she wasn't letting her emotions show before, but what abour now? "Wasn't letting" infers that she was and still is hiding her emotions.

Personally, I would opt for a positive verb rather than the contraction of not.

"She refused to let her emotions show."


It depends

Going on just the two options (and not doing away with contractions entirely like echo3 suggested), It depends entirely on the tense you are trying to write in. For example, "Hadn't let" assumes that beforehand Ruby was not letting her emotions show, but it doesn't give anything concrete in terms of presently. Conversely, "Wasn't letting" directly tells us that right now she was not letting her emotions show, but it doesn't tell us about whether or not she had shown her emotions in the past.

tl;dr It depends on whether you are referring to the past or the present.

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