1. zaffy
    Offline

    zaffy Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    251
    Likes Received:
    0

    present tense

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by zaffy, Jan 9, 2011.

    I am writing a short story in the present tense.

    Which line of dialogue is correct?

    'When she walks in, carry on as though we haven’t noticed she’s been gone.’

    'When she walks in, carry on as though we hadn't noticed she'd been gone.'

    Also is it 'if' or 'though'?
     
  2. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    When she walks in, carry on as if we hadn't noticed she had gone/left.

    That would be my choice. Even in present tense I would place the noticing in the past.
     
  3. marina
    Offline

    marina Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,280
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Seattle
    I'll throw in my best guess:

    "When she walks in, carry on as if we didn't notice she had left."
     
  4. zaffy
    Offline

    zaffy Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    251
    Likes Received:
    0
    Oh dear, that's complicated matters further.

    Hadn't or didn't.
     
  5. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    both work the same way - which is your character more likely to use.
     
  6. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    keep it simple:

    '...carry on as if we never noticed she'd left.'
     
  7. Forkfoot
    Offline

    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    1,034
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    San Francisco bay area
    This one.

    If it's dialogue, it really doesn't matter what tense you're writing your story in.
     
  8. Raki
    Offline

    Raki Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2011
    Messages:
    317
    Likes Received:
    6
    As forkfoot said, dialogue bends the rules of tense, because dialogue can be about things that happened in the past, future, or present, when the actual story could be solidly in present tense.

    My version of your suggestions would read: "When she walks in, carry on as though we didn't notice she was gone."

    If you need to use one of your two examples, I'd use the former: "When she walks in, carry on as though we haven't noticed she's been gone."

    My reasoning here is that with the usage of "when she walks in" you are pushing the dialogue to present tense, "walks" being the present tense verb. When this happens, we will do this. It does not make grammatical sense to put the second half of the sentence into past tense: When this happens, we had done this.
     

Share This Page