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  1. TheMarine
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    TheMarine New Member

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    Tense and Pronoun Usage

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by TheMarine, Jun 9, 2010.

    Hey guys,

    1. I was wondering how tenses work in writing. If I'm writing an autobiography, do I remain in the past tense? (I'm not exactly sure whatsoever, so a good explanation would be appreciated.)

    2. I was wondering in this same autobiography if it is okay to refer to the "you" pronoun, or is it specific to maintain the "I" subject? For example: "I focused on tuning my training constantly. You had to be very motivated to do so." Does the "you" need to change to "I"? (Again, I'm not exactly sure whatsoever, so a good explanation would be appreciated.)

    Thanks in Advance. :)
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    As for the writing of the autobiography, it might be unusual to write it in the present tense, but it would not be wrong. This is a stylistic choice.

    In the example you give for pronoun choice, the you indicates the greater you, not the singular personal you. In this usage the you means anyone, people in general. It is not specifically and only related to the more personal you. So, to answer the question, it should be you, not I.
     
  3. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Wouldn't this fit better in the spelling, grammar, ect forum?
    That said, I concur with Wrey.
     
  4. TheMarine
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    TheMarine New Member

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    Sorry about that. :redface:

    And thanks Wreybies, that answered my question. I'll post again if I have anymore!

    Thanks. :)
     
  5. tweakyren
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    tweakyren New Member

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    Well there's always a place for any tense in any form of writing.

    I'd have known that, if...

    for example.

    Though if you are relating past finished events then the Past Simple tense is fine. If you want to mention them out of sequence then you could also use the past perfect.
     
  6. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    He could avoid the problem by using "One", although that does make the voice seem rather formal.
     
  7. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    I find English discussions about conjugation to be... strange.

    In Spanish there are so many verbal forms, most people don't even know how to use some of the less common ones, while in English there are so few that most are ambiguous out of context.

    Which, of course, makes me curse English when I need specificity about as much as I curse Spanish when I need speed (you wouldn't believe the amount of words you need to say just about anything in Spanish).
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Technically, that's because English tends towards being an isolating language and Spanish tends to be a synthetic one.
    I bet one can be just as specific in English as one can in Spanish. One just needs more words than you might expect.
    That does surprise me. If there are so many verbal forms in Spanish I would have thought they would have carried a lot of information in them.
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Spanish is only slightly more to the synthetic side than English. The only example I can trully think of off the top of my head are the verb forms. It is true that in this aspect Spanish is more synthetic. Because the verb conjugations in Spanish automatically tell you the grammatical person to which they refer, Spanish has become a pro-drop language. Interesting to note that not all, not even most, languages which have clear conjugations are pro-drop. Also the fact that Spanish appends the inflected pronouns to the verbs in most situations making one word out of two morphemes.

    dígame ~ tell me

    dígale ~ tell her/him

    But, I have derailed this thread so hard just now that it's going to air in the next 10 minutes on CNN!

    Back to the topic at hand.
     
  10. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    Actually avoiding that is one of the great fights. I must repeat myself "There's no need to specify, the context will convey my meaning", over and over again, like a mantra.


    Oh, verbs are fine. Spanish does allow saving a lot of words by using the correct form. However, obligatory articles cost you some words, and the difficulty to easily construct words (-ly, -ish, etc.) forces long periphrases that sometimes fall right where you wanted a quick structure.
     
  11. Sonata
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    Sonata Member

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    Think of it as "you" being an informal replacement for "one".
     

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