Questions tagged [tenses]

This tag should be used for questions about using grammatical tenses in your work, such as questions about the correct usage of tenses or about the effect that certain tenses have on the reader's feelings.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
8
votes
7answers
15k views

Software for determining verb tense

When I write fiction, or even technical reports, I have a very difficult time catching myself unintentionally switching verb tenses. Does software exist that highlights verb tense (either by colour-...
5
votes
2answers
420 views

How to write in third person present tense without making it sound awkward?

Generally it is preferred that one use present tense with POV, or at least it sounds organic. Are there any ground rules I can make use of to exploit third person present tense to the fullest without ...
0
votes
2answers
29 views

Present tense in personal recounts

I'm writing a travel memoir and have come across a dilemma of sorts. Yes, I know that a memoir is usually written in the past tense -- since it happened in the past. But certain facts remain true as I ...
1
vote
1answer
46 views

Are there rules related to tense used? [closed]

I started my novel in third person, past tense, then I changed it to third person present tense, then I changed it to first person present tense, and now I've changed it to first person past tense. I ...
4
votes
3answers
72 views

Can the first-person narrator use both past and present tenses?

My first person narrator is telling his story in the past tense but there are present tense realities too that get me confused what tense to use. For instance, here are two paragraphs: When I came ...
0
votes
1answer
34 views

Avoiding tenses problems

I think I'm facing many problems concerning the use of tense when I write things..so is there any app or website that can check my mistakes and correct them?
0
votes
2answers
72 views

Past or present tense when describing a well-known method in the description of an experiment?

I am describing an experiment for a scientific paper. In this experiment, I use a very well-known technique which I briefly describe, similar to the following variant (#1): In this experiment, we ...
1
vote
1answer
50 views

Do you use past-perfect in narrative to make a reference about a time before the point of narrative? Or is it better to use past simple?

I had a question regarding the use of past perfect tense in a narrative that is in past tense. Is it correct to use the past perfect tense for an event that occurred before the point of narrative? Or ...
1
vote
1answer
109 views

Tense change when referring to how protagonist currently is while he is describing events

I have written a novel that I want to send out to agents, but am now having doubts if it is polished enough to do so yet. A big problem for me right now is tense. My novel is written in past tense, ...
7
votes
8answers
43k views

Which tense to use when writing a diary?

For writing diary content every day, which English tense is appropriate to use? Things have all happened already. I usually write late at night (end of the day) or the next day. Should I use ...
0
votes
1answer
74 views

Is Third-Person Present Tense Common and Popular in Adult Novels?

I was wondering if third-person present tense was common and popular in adult novels. I know when I'm reading Young Adult novels that this tense is like the norm. I mostly write YA novels so I can ...
-1
votes
1answer
37 views

Past tense or not in a statement about a general idea [closed]

Sometimes, I come across with a problem like this: I don't know if I should use past tense or not in the sentence like below. Nine out of ten adults live a mentally health life. The one who doesn't ...
3
votes
4answers
10k views

Writing dialogue, present or past tense “said”

This may seem like an off-topic question, but it's really more about writing than about the grammar. I use a lot of dialogue in my writing, sometimes too much, but while I'm writing it, though the ...
0
votes
0answers
26 views

If I am teaching someone through Video tutorial than how to ask question from him?

I am making a tutorial video on programming language. During video I want to ask question who is watching the video. Confusion is between 2 words. "I" or "You". Let's see few examples. After ...
5
votes
3answers
148 views

First person plural for charisma?

I've been writing a friendly tutorial series for a small art software community. Somehow I decided to write it in first person plural, so the entire tutorial is "First, let's do this..." and "Now we ...
1
vote
1answer
103 views

What is this writing style called and how can I remove pronouns?

Some background. I am currently in the editing phase of my dissertation and I have no clue what 'tense?'/'personage?'/writing 'style?' I have used. For example consider the sentence, "In this ...
0
votes
3answers
69 views

What tense should the dialogues be in a first person singular write-ups?

I am writing my novel in first person singular in the past tense as narrated by the protagonist. So obviously the narrative is in past tense, but I am confused about how to write dialogue, whether it ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

Shifting tenses in the middle of narration

I am writing a short story where the narrator is recording a message to his daughter about some tragic event and in between the narration, the narrator sometimes tries to address directly his daughter....
1
vote
3answers
246 views

What tense to use for events that are still happening?

The question is similar to this but the answers does not answer me. In my general fiction novel, which is told in first person singular past tense, I encounter moments where I am confused whether to ...
6
votes
2answers
178 views

Historical Present in English?

As a historian, I at times get my fingers on Latin texts. Latin has a rather peculiar use of past and present tenses: Usually, texts are written in Imperfect, which is the 'simple past', with things ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Past vs. present tense when referring to a fictional character

What would you write when referring to a fictional character in a non-fiction work? e.g. Tom Sawyer is a boy, he has no parents, he goes on adventures or Tom Sawyer was a boy, he had no parents, he ...
6
votes
4answers
127 views

In one book can one narrator be in present and the other in past?

I'm currently planning a book series that is told from the first person perspective of 5 different characters. I have a different voice for all of the characters, but I think that 2 of the characters ...
1
vote
2answers
983 views

Tense in a query letter, synopsis, outline

When writing fiction, we generally use past tense for the narration and present tense for dialogue. When you are done with a fiction novel and are ready to query a literary agent/publisher, what ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

Switching between past tense and historical present tense

When is it appropriate to switch between past tense and historical present tense when telling a story in first person? Should we try to keep the same tense throughout, or can narration be in ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

Can I switch from past tense to present tense in an epilogue?

I have written my entire novel thus far in past tense. However, I feel like my final chapter/epilogue would work better in present tense. I want to give the reader the sense that everything s/he has ...
2
votes
1answer
105 views

Switching tense and point of view between the chapters [duplicate]

I'm writing a story told mostly in first person point of view in present tense where the narrator alternates between two characters from chapter to chapter. I have gotten some critics about this ...
5
votes
4answers
11k views

Past tense writing troubles. Specifically the word “Now”

I want to say: "Now I was on the plane with my best friend." But don't "Now" and "was" contradict each other? And I specifically want to phrase it this way because earlier on in my book I wrote: "I ...
2
votes
3answers
349 views

Are the following passages examples of tense change? Are they allowed in fiction writing?

We reached the place a few minutes later, which turned out to be—a record store? The room was tiny but nice. Simple, and with the comfort and coziness of the countryside. Plus it had ...
1
vote
2answers
123 views

Varying POV and tense

My novel is written in the third person. When changing POV between different scenes (or chapters), is it OK if the parts for different POV characters use different tenses: some - the past tense, and ...
6
votes
2answers
150 views

Is it confusing for English speakers to see mixed tenses in narration?

I translate fanfiction stories from Russian into English as a hobby and I'm a bit confused about tenses. In Russian, it's normal to mix past and present tenses in generally past narration, but I ...
3
votes
5answers
86 views

Should I change from past to present tense to state a fact that continues into the present and is unyielding?

Within narration in past tense, should a statement of a universally true fact be in past tense or in present tense? For example, in the short text: It was late afternoon in Zubrin. The air was ...
1
vote
2answers
146 views

Flashforward Tense

I am a new-ish author. I've written a lot of books, but they've never been published. Anyway, for this new book I'm about to write the first scene is a flash-forward to the end of the book. I really ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Proper use of the “historical present tense”

I am thinking of employing the historical present tense in a first-person narrative (to achieve a greater level of immediacy). The problem is that I am telling the story in a non-linear manner, i.e. ...
8
votes
3answers
5k views

Should a long flashback be written in first or third person?

In my novel there will be a chapter-length flashback as one character relates a story from his past. The rest of the novel is written in limited third-person, seeing into one person's mind at a time. ...
8
votes
2answers
8k views

Should a flashback be in past tense or past perfect?

Assuming the story itself is in past tense, normally when I go further into the past I'd use past perfect: He had first met her at the grocery store, six months prior. However, which is more correct ...
-2
votes
2answers
184 views

How can I avoid repetition of “I”, while keeping present tense in first person? [duplicate]

I'm writing a first-person fantasy novel. I can't exactly figure out how to avoid the repetition of "I" when explaining the actions of the character. Any way I have ever seen makes the story seem like ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

Are characters' internal thoughts written in past or present tense?

Is there a general rule for past vs. present tense for a character's internal thoughts? Direct thoughts in present, while indirect thoughts in past? I'm thinking specifically of 1st person here. I ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Use of past tense in a book about the future

I'm writing a sci-fi novella about a scientist named Steves living in the 24th century. I'm mostly using the typical past tense to narrate the incidents happening to the protagonist. Whenever I'm ...
5
votes
1answer
44 views

Confusion about scientific writing tenses

I am writing a study for my second academic degree. As usual it has research questions and objectives. My confusion lies in the tenses for these two. The research questions have been answered and the ...
1
vote
3answers
7k views

Can I change between the use of past tense to present tense for the story being told by a character in first person?

My story is told by one of the characters and frequently uses the past tense when describing events. But occasionally I feel like some of the events should be told in the present tense, and I switch ...
7
votes
4answers
140 views

Are there any rules to follow about the narrator mixing past and present tense in writing?

I'm editing a short story that's been written in the past tense, however at some points I slip up and use a lot of present tense to describe some scenes. Thing is, it's happened often enough that I've ...
3
votes
2answers
5k views

present tense fiction - examples of it done well and common pitfalls

I've recently started trying my hand at some fiction writing for the first time. Already I reckon there are a lot of people out there that would say that I shouldn't be thinking about present tense if ...
3
votes
1answer
89 views

Shifting from Past tense to present tense [closed]

I want to make a cartoon video describing my personal experience. Is it okay if I used the past tense to introduce the story first and then shift to the present tense to make it sound more realistic? ...
5
votes
3answers
181 views

Can I change tenses in my first person YA novel?

I'm half way through a YA science fiction novel that is told in 1st person, past tense. Currently there are two chapters in different tenses. One is 2nd person, present tense - the p.o.v. of an AI. ...
2
votes
2answers
997 views

Tenses I should use in a translated-novel

I have been translating a novel that is originally written in my native language into English. Considering that the book's plot is the author's experience of a life that has happened in the past, I've ...
5
votes
2answers
137 views

Confusion about usage of present tense vs past tense vs mixed

I am quite new to writing so I hope my question makes any sense. I'm trying to write a first draft of a story that has been haunting me for quite a while. Even though I'm fine with it to fail, I ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

Do modern readers believe the first person narrator can't die?

Back in highschool in the 90s we had an assignment to write an extra chapter for a book. After some discussion the teacher told us that under no circumstances can we kill the protagonist as the book ...
6
votes
3answers
683 views

A question about Past Participle vs Simple Past in a novel

The novel is in past tense and the character is recounting things that happened before the novel began. Should I be using the past participle? Everything I read says that using the word "had" is a big ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

How to avoid slipping into the wrong tense?

In one of the stories I'm writing at the moment, when the narrator is in the scene, the story is in present tense (which is painful, but so far I like the result). The rest is in the much easier to ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

Present tense in user manuals

I am writing a user manual for an IT system. And inside the user manual I have sentences such as: Users can delete Servers that do not have Customers assigned to them. Is the use of present-...