1. Nervous1st
    Offline

    Nervous1st Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
    Messages:
    188
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Australia

    Using the word 'today'

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Nervous1st, Jan 4, 2010.

    Hi all,

    I am unsure of how to use ‘today’ when writing in past tense. I have seen it used before, but it always confuses me, given that ‘today’ is referring to the present day. Does that make any sense? Similar to this morning or this afternoon.

    If I could just share my example:

    I have included the entire paragraph so you can get the context. Am I using this correctly or is it a violation of tense?

    I am confused.

    Many thanks.
     
  2. Nackl of Gilmed
    Offline

    Nackl of Gilmed Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2009
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Perth, Australia
    I think it sounds weird in your example because it's in a kind of double past tense, where the narrator, already speaking in past tense, is also talking about something he establishes as being in the past. I think there's cases where it's appropriate, e.g "As the sun began to rise, he knew today was going to be a busy day."

    But I could be wrong I guess.
     
  3. jlauren
    Offline

    jlauren Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2009
    Messages:
    135
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Queensland, AUSTRALIA
    Why not just say:

    "...thinking over things that won’t live past that day." Or something along those lines.
     
  4. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    needs to be 'wouldn't live past the day' or something similarly past tense-compliant, to make sense...
     
  5. kelseyem
    Offline

    kelseyem New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I think you're actually using it incorrectly.

    Think of it as "earlier today", just without the "earlier". Earlier today is a time period that has already passed, and when you remove the "earlier", it's just sort of implied that the event was still earlier:

    What did you do today?

    Today I went to the store.
     
  6. jlauren
    Offline

    jlauren Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2009
    Messages:
    135
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Queensland, AUSTRALIA
    Of course....nice save. *slaps forehead*
     
  7. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    But "now" is often used by the best writers when they write in past tense.

    As far as the use of "today" when writing in the past tense, I think it depends on the author. In Bujold's The Curse of Challion, she uses "today," but I think it is because she is writing as if everything is happening right now.

    Those are just a few examples from that novel.

    However, I had a hard time finding many authors that used "today" like this, and the ones that did, did so rarely.
     
  8. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    it's hard to do successfully, which is why it should be avoided by all but the most skilled of writers...
     

Share This Page