1. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    -ing in past tense

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Stammis, May 16, 2016.

    I'm a bit confused how to use -ing in past tense. This section here for example:

    She snapped her eyes open, staring into a thick blackness which no light could penetrate. Her heart raced and she breathed rapidly as she could neither move nor see; but as her breath deepened, life streamed back into her limbs and she stood with weary legs.

    As she rose, shackles scraped along the stone floor, chafing against her skin and weighing against her feet. She staggered backwards as her mind swirled. Where am I? she repeated several times in her head.

    Can I use 'staring' but I can't use 'chafing' and 'weighing' in the context above? Or should you not use -ing all together in past tense?

    Also, do think I should use italic when she thinks: 'where am I?'
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't use italics for the thought, particularly since you are already tagging it.

    Your -ing words are fine.
     
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  3. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    I see. I was told by someone that the (-ing) indicate present tense, and should be 'chafed' and 'weighed' instead. Which made me confused because I have written like the paragraph above for a long time.
     
  4. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would avoid '...ing' where possible, and use 'ed.'

    A lesson

    ...learned as part of one's CW curve, in training, the lifestyle.

    'Ed' demands attention, 'ing' washes armpits only, and her cold flannel, no.

    But you mix and match in your prose, so decide for yourself :)
     
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  5. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    I am going to the shop.
    I was going to the shop.
    I trust you don't need me to tell you which is present and which is past.

    Gerunds, -ing words, don't denote any specific tense, but the context around them does.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    See our extensive discussion of italics for thoughts before making your own choice, even with tags. It's a style choice, no right or wrong, though people will tell you there is.

    Back to your question, I've been reading about -ing words because they are discouraged (not banned mind you). New writers tend to overuse them trying to improve on sentence-cadence variability.

    THE -ING FORMS
    Because they are an extension of the verb, they carry the same tense as the verb.
    What you want to be careful of is overusing them. Be sure you need them.

    So for example, is the action relative?

    I was sleeping when the phone rang.
    It matters what you were doing right at the time the phone rang.

    But here, it's unnecessary:

    As I was fishing Sally came along.
    It's one thing to describe what you were doing when Sally entered the scene, but it's not related like being awakened by the phone was.
    It is better said like this:

    I cast my line and waited. Sally appeared on the trail.
    The web page has detailed straight forward discussion of -ing words.
     
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  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Gerunds are -ing nouns, not verbs.

    Eating is my favorite pastime.
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, whoever told you that is wrong. It doesn't change the tense. As you're using it, it seems to me it is clearly still past tense (past progressive, maybe?).
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    No. It's past continuous tense. (I think. Someone who paid more attention when grammar was taught may correct me. But I'm positive that it's perfectly correct.)
     
  10. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I had a LOT of -inging in my first novel. It was because I was trying not to start every sentence with He, She, or Name.

    He clung to the rock and prayed for rescue.
    Clinging to the rock, he prayed for rescue.

    A beta reader pointed it out (maybe more than one of them?) and I worked out other ways to vary sentence beginnings.

    It's not incorrect, and I still -ing, but much more sparingly.
     
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  11. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    Hehe, that is so true! I didn't even think about why I used them. At least they are not as hated as adverbs I guess.
     
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  12. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    While I have your attention. Is it necessary to use italic in this example?:

    A faint echo reached her ear. A whimper? But the sound disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared and they pressed on.
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    No.
     
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  14. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm also a no.
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    A third vote for no. Not even if you use italics for thought in general.
     
  16. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    As an aside, when is it ever necessary to use italics?

    But, especially for thoughts, they're very optional.
     
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  17. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    After reading through some of my old texts, I notice the -ings more often and it is driving me crazy! Would you mind sharing those 'other' ways that you do to vary your sentences?
     
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  18. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I don't really have a set method. I just play around with the wording until I find a way that doesn't begin with a pronoun or -ing. I try not to have two sentences in a row with a pronoun, and I try to use -ing even less frequently. Here's a random excerpt from my WIP:

    At the end of the street she turned into the park and spotted the perfect patch of grass. It was soaked in sunshine, close enough to the stream to hear running water, but far enough away that she wouldn’t get eaten by a swan. Looking around, she wished she had a set of watercolours with her to capture the scene. She needed to build a new portfolio of paintings to go with her new ad. Not that anybody would commission her to paint landscapes, but people liked looking at that sort of thing.

    With a happy sigh [Old me would have said Sighing happily,] she stretched out on her back, kicked off her shoes, and spread her arms like a snow angel.
    Glorious. Who needed to be rich when you had grass and sunshine?

    I guess prepositions are my answer? I think that's what some of those are... Of course, some old school people think (incorrectly) that it's wrong to start a sentence with a preposition, so we can't win.
     
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  19. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    Yeah, I've been using that too (with a happy sight). I guess it is good enough that I am aware that I use -ing a lot. I'll figure out a good ratio in time.

    thx
     
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  20. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    I think you're conflating the adage that one shouldn't start a sentence with a conjunction/connective (because then it can't be connecting to anything) and not ending sentences with prepositions (because then it can't be modifying anything). I've never heard of not starting a sentence with a preposition.
     
  21. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Probably. I usually get it wrong when I try and use the correct names for grammar things. :p
     
  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    From what I've read, not ending with a preposition is actually nonsense imposed on English by people who wanted to make it more like Latin, and in English ending on a preposition is actually fine.
     
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  23. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah. Whichever way around it is, I know it has no basis in actual grammar rules.
     
  24. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    In your [WIP] meaning 'the reefer and sunshine' would be more credible for hep audience, imo, only.
     
  25. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Adjustments always improve sense @Tenderiser, I will delete myself in minute or two.

    At the end of the street she turned into the park and spotted the perfect patch of grass to remove all her clothes, soaked in sunshine, close enough to the stream to hear running water, but far enough away that she wouldn’t get eaten by a man. Looking around, she wished she had a set of watercolours with her to capture the scene. She needed to build a new portfolio of paintings to go with her new ad. Not that anybody would commission her to paint herself, but people liked looking at that sort of thing.
     

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