1. dogboon
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    dogboon Member

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    Present and Past or is that Past or Present Tenses!?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by dogboon, Jul 25, 2010.

    >If this is already an ongoing thread please redirect where necessary. Thanks

    For some crazy reason I have the worst concept of present and past tenses. I do crack it sometimes. I was just reading some reviews for a fantasy short story in the fiction threads and couldn't see the error in the tenses that another member had so skilfully exposed.

    Would anybody be so kind to remedy my imperfections?
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Could you be a bit more specific about what the problem is?
     
  3. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    If you mean you have problem understanding the very concept of past and present tense, then I suggest you pick up an elementary grammar book and start from there.

    And if you mean the mistake of mixing up of past and present tenses while writing, here's what my teacher made me do in high school:

    Write about a simple thing like making tea/coffee or your daily routine. First write it in past tense, check and re-check if you have made any mistakes. After you are satisfied that everything is in past tense, now write it in present tense and repeat the whole process. Regular practice will make you always think about the tense whenever you write a sentence.
     
  4. dogboon
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    dogboon Member

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    Hi. I can write in a tense but have two issues that I can think of. Firstly, I have a bad habit with mixing tenses. Second, occasionally I lose touch with what tense is appropriate at any particular time.

    I was wondering if anybody could lay down some rules for managing this.

    I do get the sense that my request is unnecessary and that I'm exposing myself a little as a fool. But unless I ask about it I would be ignoring the purposes for which I registered on this site originally.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There are two contexts for tense. One is tye tense of each verb within a sentence (grammatical tense). The other is the overall narrative tense.

    The narrative tense is whther the story is told as if it already happened (past tense) or if it it is happening now, moment to moment (present tense).

    Within a given narrative tense, you may still encounter a full range of grammatical tense, although the primary verbs will agree with the narrative tense.

    The narrative voice is past tense, so the principal verb wondered is in past tense. But her literal thoughts include a worry about the future and a remark about her current emotional state, so we have future and present grammatical tense in the sentence as well.
     
  6. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    No question is silly. I have also learned so many things asking questions here. Your original post wasn't clear about your problem.

    I think Cog's reply have covered your doubt.
     
  7. dogboon
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    dogboon Member

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    Cogito, your example is very helpful. I maybe over stating my problem, yet I do tend to stumble into the tense predicament from time to time.

    Ill hopefully be putting up a short story very soon, then my point will become very clear.

    Thanks everybody
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    study up on the subject both formally:

    http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/grammar/tenses.html

    and informally, by noticing how tenses are used by the best writers of whatever it is you want to write...
     

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