1. MiltonClemens
    Offline

    MiltonClemens Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2009
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Jakarta, Brisbane

    Another Problem with tenses in a commentary essay

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by MiltonClemens, Dec 21, 2009.

    Commentary is not an easy thing for me, basically because it requires me to really think about the tenses being used.

    I was told that I should use present tense in a commentary essay, but sometimes, they just don't make sense. Example :

    The Lovely Bones tells a story about a fourteen year old girl who is murdered after she was raped.

    I don't know if this is correct, but I've got a hunch that it's supposed to sound like this :

    The Lovely Bones tells a story about a fourteen year old girl who was murdered after she was raped.

    or there is another possibility :

    The Lovely Bones tells a story about a fourteen year old girl who is murdered after she is raped.

    Can anybody please tell me which is more appropriate? :( And can anyone please explain to me about tenses? Many Thanks!!! :)
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Use present tense for the meta-discussion, i.e. when you are talking about the book itself and its creation/pulication/marketing. But when discussing the storyline and book contents, use the same tense as the narrative or content. For instance, if the book is a how-to book using present tense and second person, then use the same in describing the content:
    In the case of Sebold's book, the narrative is in past tense, so you should do the same:
    The first verb is about the book itself, so it is in present tense. But the story is in past tense, so the second verb, which is about the story within the book, is in past tense.
     
  3. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    Thanks for the clear explanation, Cogito--I was undecided about that one!
     
  4. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    Although short, this is a great thread. Nice response from Cog.
     

Share This Page