1. MiltonClemens

    MiltonClemens New Member

    Sep 30, 2009
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    Jakarta, Brisbane

    Which tense???

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by MiltonClemens, Oct 11, 2009.

    I was writing an essay about "Memoirs of a Geisha" when suddenly I found something strange. I didn't know what tense should I be using for a specific sentence. Most people in the writingforums had been telling me to use present tense in a commentary essay, but some parts are just confusing.

    An example :
    I was trying to say that the character Sayuri would become persistent when she experiences a fall, similar to waterfall (too much water in her personality).

    Sayuri represents the water, and the events represent gravity in which the water is being pulled down. The water eventually became (should I use became or become?) persistent, so does (I didn't know whether I should use does or did, seriously this tense thing is really hard) Sayuri when she went (again, I didn't know whether to put goes or went) to the jorou-ya to find Satsu.

    I know the sentences are a bit awkward, but don't really mind that; what matters is the tense that I should be using in a commentary essay :(

    Am I supposed to treat the characters as "living" people? (use does instead of did), even if it may sound a bit off. And should the events depicted in the novel be treated like it's happening now? (use it does happen rather than it did happen)

    Please, I really need help, thanks :)
  2. arron89

    arron89 Banned

    Oct 10, 2008
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    I would use present tense. You're describing the event as though it was happening now (in the text), because the text still exists and therefore the event is still happening. Generally you don't use past tense as that would make it refer to your individual reading of the text, rather than the reading of the text in general.

    So I would write: Sayuri represents the water, and the events represent gravity in which the water is being pulled dwn. The water eventually becomes persistent, as does Sayuri when she goes to the jorou-ya to find Satsu.

    Hopethat helps.
    PS, that sentence makes no sense? If its an academic essay, you need to do some finetuning of it to turn it into a readable sentence that as a clear point.
  3. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    yes, keep it in present... and yes, the sentences need some work... so does the punctuation...

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