1. Miguel A. Wilder
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    Miguel A. Wilder Member

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    Grammar I am having trouble with proper tense in third person limited. Please Help.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Miguel A. Wilder, Dec 10, 2014.

    This one has really plagued me. If I can get an answer to this one, I think I can move on. Like I said I am writing in Third Person Limited, and I am having trouble with tense.

    Does anyone know which is correct for that point of view?

    A: He sneered, like a beast that had just caught a whiff of nearby prey, and he hammered his fist on the roof of the cab. He made dent after dent with ever thunderous blow, and caused trepidation in the driver below.

    He sneered, like a beast that had just caught a whiff of nearby prey, and he hammered his fist on the roof of the cab. He made dent after dent with ever thunderous blow, causing trepidation in the driver below.

    Is causing, and/or any other words ending in "ing" okay to use like this in 3rd person limited?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Who is the POV character? I think that in any case, the trepidation is incorrect--the driver can't see the attacker, so the POV isn't the driver's. If the POV isn't the driver's, then that POV can't assert the "trepidation." If the POV is the attacker's, I think that the "...like a beast..." doesn't work--that sounds like someone watching the attacker.

    So I assume that the POV is someone outside the car, watching the attack. A rewrite that consistently moves the POV out of the car could be:

    He sneered, like a beast that had just caught a whiff of nearby prey. He hammered his fist on the roof of the cab, making dent after dent, one with each thunderous blow. Frightened noises could be heard from the cab's interior.
     
  3. Miguel A. Wilder
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    Miguel A. Wilder Member

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    Absolutely, thanks, I never even looked at it like that. But what about the tense, the question about ing?
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    They're both correct. I believe that the "caused" example is past tense, and the "causing" is past continuous tense. Both are perfectly legitimate in this context.

    Edited to offer more examples:

    Past tense: He ate the cookie.
    Past continuous: He was eating the cookie.
    Past tense: He walked the dog.
    Past continuous: He was walking the dog.
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Like @ChickenFreak says, they're both correct, but I think "causing" reads better.

    Could be an omniscient POV, I suppose. I don't care for the wording of the passage generally.
     
  6. The Cuckoo's Nest
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    The Cuckoo's Nest Member

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    Both are correct. They are just different grammatical forms. Using the past tense makes it a compound predicate (which doesn't really require a comma, by the way). Using the progressive tense makes it an adverbial phrase that describes the action in the sentence.

    I was taught years ago that progressive tense has a subtle yet strong psychological effect on most readers. It creates a sense of urgency because it implies that the action is happening right now. Judging from the context of your exert, I'd go with the progressive tense. As pointed out earlier, though, using that phrase does start to take your point-of-view more towards an omniscient direction.
     

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