Confusing Past and Present tenses

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TracePezzali
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Confusing Past and Present tenses

Post by TracePezzali » Tue Dec 02, 2014 2:35 am

Hi Jan

You've provided previously some great advice on how to be constant in the tense you've chosen for a piece of writing.

I've found it particularly handy to recognise that the use of -ed verbs is consistent in past tense. Present tense uses -ing words frequently.

However, is there a rule of thumb, or exceptions to the rule, where 'ing' words can enter past tense writing?

examples are in these sentences:

"Charlotte was a single parent two thirds of the year, and it was lonely and exhausting."

"Charlotte’s heart filled with yearning that the dry place in her marriage would transform into this glorious garden described."

"This dreamy child was readily accepted by those her age, if being appreciated for her talents is a gauge."

"Into my twenties I walked with a charming hello"

Hopefully that's enough examples.Please tell me what you think.
Trace Pezzali

"It is written: 'I believed; therefore I have spoken.' With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak... so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God." 2 Cor 4:13-15

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Re: Confusing Past and Present tenses

Post by glorybee » Tue Dec 02, 2014 9:57 am

TracePezzali wrote:Hi Jan

You've provided previously some great advice on how to be constant in the tense you've chosen for a piece of writing.

I've found it particularly handy to recognise that the use of -ed verbs is consistent in past tense. Present tense uses -ing words frequently.

However, is there a rule of thumb, or exceptions to the rule, where 'ing' words can enter past tense writing?

examples are in these sentences:

"Charlotte was a single parent two thirds of the year, and it was lonely and exhausting."

"Charlotte’s heart filled with yearning that the dry place in her marriage would transform into this glorious garden described."

"This dreamy child was readily accepted by those her age, if being appreciated for her talents is a gauge."

"Into my twenties I walked with a charming hello"

Hopefully that's enough examples.Please tell me what you think.
Trace, all of those sentences are written correctly in the past tense. In most of them, the -ing word doesn't function as a verb in the sentence. In the first sentence, 'exhausting' is an adjective describing 'year.' In the second sentence, 'yearning' is a noun--the thing that filled Charlotte's heart. In the third sentence, 'being' is a verb, but the main verb in that sentence is 'was...accepted,' definitely in past tense. In the fourth sentence, 'charming' is an adjective that modifies 'hello.'

Just more examples of why English is a confusing language. But your instincts for tense are correct--all of those sentences are indeed past tense, because their main verbs (was, filled, was accepted, walked) are past tense.

To further complicate things, it's possible to have a sentence with a main -ing verb written in past tense:

They were running away from the dragon.

In this case, 'running' is part of a verb phrase (were running), and it is the helping verb that puts the sentence into past tense.

If you have follow-up questions, feel free to ask!
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Re: Confusing Past and Present tenses

Post by TracePezzali » Sat Feb 07, 2015 8:51 pm

Hi Jan

I'm hoping you'll give me the 'ok' (teehee) with this line, because I really want to keep it! The story it is attached to is past tense.

Outside: the motor rattle of a cooling engine, door slam, footsteps, key raping the lock. The door acquiesced.

I'm thinking the present tenses may be ok because they are related to objects? (Can't recall the terminology. My brain has difficulty retaining this despite my going over and over it). I've put a full stop after 'lock' to separate the past tense I've then used (acquiesced).

What do you think?

Mwa
Trace Pezzali

"It is written: 'I believed; therefore I have spoken.' With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak... so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God." 2 Cor 4:13-15

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Re: Confusing Past and Present tenses

Post by glorybee » Sat Feb 07, 2015 9:30 pm

TracePezzali wrote:Hi Jan

I'm hoping you'll give me the 'ok' (teehee) with this line, because I really want to keep it! The story it is attached to is past tense.

Outside: the motor rattle of a cooling engine, door slam, footsteps, key raping the lock. The door acquiesced.

I'm thinking the present tenses may be ok because they are related to objects? (Can't recall the terminology. My brain has difficulty retaining this despite my going over and over it). I've put a full stop after 'lock' to separate the past tense I've then used (acquiesced).

What do you think?

Mwa
This doesn't really seem like present tense to me--more like a series of discriptive phrases. The main verb--acquiesced-- is past tense. I'm not sure I love the imagery of the key raping the lock, but I guess that needs more context.
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Re: Confusing Past and Present tenses

Post by TracePezzali » Sun Feb 08, 2015 7:23 pm

Thanks :P Hopefully in context the action on the lock is symbolically suitable, but I'll reconsider that anyway.

As Outside: is not a complete sentence, is it ok to use the : in this context - which seemed the right punctuation out of all my choices.

Thanks Jan
Trace Pezzali

"It is written: 'I believed; therefore I have spoken.' With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak... so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God." 2 Cor 4:13-15

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Re: Confusing Past and Present tenses

Post by glorybee » Sun Feb 08, 2015 7:27 pm

TracePezzali wrote:Thanks :P Hopefully in context the action on the lock is symbolically suitable, but I'll reconsider that anyway.

As Outside: is not a complete sentence, is it ok to use the : in this context - which seemed the right punctuation out of all my choices.

Thanks Jan
Yes. What you've got here is a piece of contemporary literary writing, which experiments with flouting the rules a bit, or at the very least, bending them for effect.
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Re: Confusing Past and Present tenses

Post by TracePezzali » Sun Feb 08, 2015 7:31 pm

Oh, that's great! :superhappy
I've now got a great fall back position, teehee - I'm forging my voice in contemporary fiction! :lol:
Trace Pezzali

"It is written: 'I believed; therefore I have spoken.' With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak... so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God." 2 Cor 4:13-15

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