Tense


Tense or verb tense refers to the time of a verb’s action.  Examples of tenses are past, present and future tense. For help with this you can use English grammar software. This will help with what you have written, but it is also important to have a basic understanding for when you are speaking.


Do not shift tense if the state of the action remains the same.


The main thing to try to remember is not to shift tense in the middle of a sentence or paragraph unintentionally. If you are telling a story, do not start by talking about what you did yesterday and switch to using a present tense verb indicating that you are currently doing what you had done.



Here is an example:
“At noon the clouds darkened and the wind picked up and announces the approaching storm.”

The tense of the verbs ‘darkened’ and ‘picked’ is past, but ‘announces’ is present. To correct this sentence you would say:
“At noon the clouds darkened and the wind picked up and announced the approaching storm.”

Do shift tense to indicate the change in time frame


When the state or action changes then you want to change the tense within the sentence. So if you are talking about how you feel about what you did in the past you change your tense.

Here is an example:

The ladies in the garden club love the flowers they planted.

‘The ladies love’ is present tense and tells how they feel today. They planted the flowers in the past. This is an appropriate shift in tense.

Controlling the change in tense in a paragraph or essay


When you are writing a paragraph or essay sometimes you have to change from past to present or future and back, perhaps several times. Make sure when you do this that it is done only when the state of event is in different time frames.

Hints

Firstly, there are various English writing software packages and English grammar checkers that will help you to obtain complete accuracy.

Generally use past tense to narrate events in the past. Anything that has already happened and is not perpetual or recurring would be past tense.

Present tense should be used for things that are currently happening and to refer to perpetual or habitual action. Present tense can also be used to describe any action in a literary work, movie or other fictional narrative. Ensure you only move tense as appropriate.

Future tense should be used to express things that have not yet happened but will in the future. These are usually expressed by using adverbs that include words like ‘will’, ‘shall’, ‘is going to’ and many others.

When in doubt, find an English editing software programme or online grammar check site to help you.

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