Monday, July 16, 2007

Grammar: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them (Part 13: Tense Shift)

Be careful to stay in a consistent tense. Too often writers move from past to present tense without good reason – and good reasons are few and far between.
Bad: He finished writing the memo, and then he is calling his wife.

The example shifts from past tense to the present progressive. It is confusing. It is also a very extreme example, but I have seen it.
Good: He finished writing the memo and called his wife.

The second example is simpler. It looks better, it uses the same verb tenses, and it is cleaner.

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