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.

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9
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3answers
2k 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 ...
3
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2answers
6k 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 ...
2
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3answers
168 views

“Am I mixing my tenses?” She asked, scratching her head

I'm very confused about tenses. I am not sure if I am mixing modifiers up or slipping from past to present. Can someone help me please, here are a few examples: Stooping, he lit a fire, warming ...
2
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1answer
116 views

Referencing the present while using the past tense

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; ...
5
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4answers
14k 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
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2answers
2k 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 ...
12
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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 ...
0
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1answer
93 views

Shifting Tense and Commas in Writing

I received some critiques on my writing where the reader indicated it read fine but there was just something off about my tense. However, he couldn't put a finger on what, exactly, was wrong with it. ...
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1answer
437 views

Which makes better sense? [closed]

Is it correct to say: Sign Up to our Newsletter Or Sign Up for our Newsletter Thanks!
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3answers
202 views

Stating facts in novel written in the present tense, third person omniscient. Can I use the past tenses or would I risk losing consistency?

So I've come across this little (but very annoying) problem when writing my first novel in the present tense: I'm second guessing my choice of tenses all the time, very much afraid to end up being ...
2
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1answer
56 views

Managing Document Versions for Multiple Tenses

I need to create two versions of a document, one in future tense and one in past tense: Document A: The consultant will do X. Document B: The consultant did X. In the past, I've handled this by ...
3
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4answers
11k 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 ...
2
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5answers
4k views

Use of 'Now' in past tense

The prologue of my story is past tense, then the rest will be present tense. I cannot figure how to word a sentence correctly to take out 'now' or to make it sound correct. Rayanne had found out she ...
0
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1answer
69 views

A question of tenses

I'm writing a novella. A lot of it is told from the protagonist's point of view when he is telling someone about the events of the last three years. I'm struggling with tenses. I have written the ...
1
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1answer
254 views

Using present tense for events in the novels past

I have a novel I am working on that opens in present tense narration. At the beginning of chapter two it is revealed that the previous chapter, and the rest of the novel, are POV narration from a ...
0
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0answers
78 views

Challenges in switching tense [duplicate]

I am writing fiction and considering using past tense by default but then switching to present tense for action scenes. This answer leads me to believe switching tense can be done. I assume that ...
1
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1answer
109 views

Correctly implementing past tense

I'm having difficulties with a sentence (and others like it) in the prose of a story. I've heard a lot of advice to both remain consistent with tense but also to not be too rigid about it. Could ...
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3answers
658 views

Present tense novel with past tense flashbacks

I'm currently writing a mystery novel in the third person present tense. I chose this to create more suspense as I like the idea that the reader is discovering things at the same time as the ...
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3answers
112 views

How would I keep using past tense with resulting actions

I'm having trouble figuring out which form is the past tense for sentences like these. For each example, which would be correct? Or have I completely missed something? Thanks. John stepped on the ...
5
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1answer
1k views

Past perfect in past tense narrative: When to use and when not to?

I always get confused about whether to use past perfect in past tense narrative. Example: I went back home that weekend to help Mom with our dog's burial. Since we had postponed it, she'd had to ...
1
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1answer
481 views

Should I use “could be” or “could have been” in past-tense narration?

Examples: Using "could": I looked at the flyer again, and then back at Mark. Very strange---meeting someone who didn't see me as a weirdo. But could it be true? Could there be a club dedicated ...
9
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7answers
18k 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-...
2
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2answers
741 views

Is there a problem in switching from present to past for a backstory sequence?

My understanding was that it's fairly normal for a present-tense novel to switch into past tense in a backstory sequence. But I was having a conversation with a friend and he insists any tense ...
2
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1answer
14k views

the use of “now” in past tense [closed]

I want to write something like Now that he met his lost daughter, his happiness is now complete. But I'm not sure how to turn that into narrative past tense, especially the "now" part. Is it like ...
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2answers
5k views

“That's when” vs “That was when.”

Should I use the former or the latter in a story written in first-person past tense? Example: My heart started to race, my adrenaline to spike, and that's when the thought hit me: I had to find ...
4
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4answers
896 views

Past tense vs present tense

I’m writing a short story. I am using the past tense, but I have sections where I describe people and places that are supposed to still be in existence. Should I continue to refer to them in the ...
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2answers
533 views

Use past or present tense for lasting fact

I'm writing a story in present tense. One sentence is a little tricky for me, and I don't know if I should use past or present tense: Present tense The tree was so massive, that it even withholds ...
2
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3answers
353 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 ...
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3answers
8k 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 ...
0
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1answer
1k views

Confusion on inconsistent verb tenses in a magazine article

I have an obstacle writing articles that have consistent verb tenses. Generally, I've been told that if I start an article in the past tense, I should keep other verbs in the past tense. But as I read ...
2
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4answers
2k views

Is there a complete guideline for which tense to use?

There are questions here about specific use of tenses, but I wonder if there is a more complete guide on what tense to use when? For a fictional novel, Past Tense is the accepted choice. But which ...
6
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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-...
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2answers
726 views

“Where did X go?” vs “where had X gone.”

Which one should be used for a story written in the past tense? Example: But just as I was about to consider that possibility, I spotted something: a blood-stained feather. It was caught between ...
1
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1answer
429 views

Are these examples of tenses? Why do writers use the tenses that they do?

I have a passage about a character who has just woken up, and then there's the line The room fell into silence. Or should it be The room falls into silence. I can't get my head around which it ...
3
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1answer
911 views

When to keep the passive voice and when to remove it

This is something I wrote: The person was standing in the middle of the clearing, facing away from me. It was a girl. She was wearing a red knit hat, a white sweater, an a gray plaid skirt that ...
8
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2answers
1k views

Should blog posts be reformatted to past tense after an event?

A writer is doing blog coverage of an event which is time sensitive (happens annually). The writer uses present tense for the coverage posts. Should the writer go back and reformat the old posts to ...
4
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6answers
12k views

How to deal with things that still exist when writing in past tense?

Say I write this: I lived near Les Gobelins, which was a beautiful intersection full of trees. Should it be this? I lived near Les Gobelins, which is a beautiful intersection full of trees. ...
2
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2answers
1k 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 ...
6
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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
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3answers
3k views

Switching from past to present tense?

I'm thinking of writing a novel where my character narrates flashbacks through the hardest times of his life written in past tense, leading up to the present tense. I was considering switching to ...
0
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1answer
2k views

Problems with past tenses in formal paper on a novel with MLA Format

I have been writing high school English paper on a novel in MLA format. Is there any rule about using past participle or past imperfect? Throughout the essay there have been many places that can be ...
7
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8answers
47k 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 ...
8
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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. ...
4
votes
1answer
244 views

What tense to use in an academic paper when speaking about correspondence?

What is the correct tense to use in an academic paper when speaking about correspondence? Say one of my source materials is a letter written by someone named William, in which he says he went to the ...
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2answers
3k views

Use of present-tense for memory-related shenanigans in a past-tense story

I'm writing a story in past tense, in first person. The character is discussing the vagaries of his memory of events in the further past. "I remembered" seems to have the wrong connotation here - he ...
8
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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 ...
6
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2answers
8k views

Tense of Literary Essay

When writing a literary essay in English what tense should be used: Past as in: Gatsby’s parties were ostentatious and exquisite Or present as in: Gatsby’s parties are ostentatious and ...
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4answers
3k views

Which tense should I use when writing a post about a journey?

What tense could I use when I write about a journey? Suppose if I write about a train journey and describe the countryside, would using a present tense create a deeper impact to the reader? I could ...
9
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3answers
6k views

Use of past vs. present tense in works of fiction

I have recently picked up several works of fiction and begun to read them. I have found that some are written using past tense while others use the present tense. What is the significance of using ...
5
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3answers
2k views

Pros ans cons of writing a plot based on the present and past tense (character's point of view)?

I'm not sure if I should write my first book in the present or past tense. The book is about a doctor in a clinic who is analysing his patients. e.g. I said, VS I say. I thought for a while VS I ...