1. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    Tenses and participles - acceptibility

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by SwampDog, Dec 31, 2014.

    VS.

    Often in writing, I use the past tense with present participles. It seems a tiny bit closer to the action i.e. the direct feelings of the character, and also relieves the unvarying past tense.

    Either or both acceptable?

    Cheers
     
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  2. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    I prefer the first version in this instance, but both are acceptable. Your first example (probably) means that the actions happened one after the other. The second version means that the shaking and cursing happened while he read.
     
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  3. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Second to the right, and straight on till morning.
    I also prefer the first version, maybe without the comma in "God, he was cold." The omittion of the comma might give
    a good snap to the sentence.
     
  4. lustrousonion
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    It has to have the comma. Could say, "God! He was cold."
     
  5. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    He's shivering and shaking all the time - borderline hypothermia. Been on a stakeout in falling sleet for hours!

    The action is clearly in the past, but relating ongoing action in the past. That's the only differentiation I can make.

    Cheers
     
  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think the repeated -ing words don't mesh well given the context. It could work but compared to the first version it sounds a tad off. I think because the first allows each action to have its moment - shook and cursed. Where as shaking and cursing kinda blur together. Or maybe it's just me. I read a lot into each specific word - perhaps too much.
     
  7. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    Shaking, he cursed inwardly as he read the ...
     
  8. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Fascinating, for me, because I 'hands down' like the second choice WAY more.

    I'm just gramatically ignorant that way, I guess. :)
     
  9. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    Exactly what I was going to recommend. I like the second one because the sentences flow better but I like the first one better because you don't have multiple actions in the present tense. That fix is the best of both.

    Well, I would do "Shaking, he inwardly cursed as he read the..." but the order doesn't matter much.
     
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  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like the first one better than the second, but to me it communicates three events in a sequence--first he shook, then he cursed inwardly, then he read. And that's iffy, because he's presumably shaking all the while. So I agree with:

     

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