Grammar Guru Part 6: Maintaining Verb Tense

Maintaining verb tense is vital when providing cohesive content to clients.

In general, verb tense consistency should be maintained throughout the sentence and paragraph.

In grammar school, we were taught that every rule has exceptions. Shifts in tense should be employed when it’s necessary to demonstrate different time frames.

  • Incorrect: The wine was added to the menu when the chancellor requests it. 
  • Correct: The wine was added to the menu when the chancellor requested it. 

Showing the relationship between the present and tying it to some future event requires a shift in tense within the same sentence.

  • Incorrect: When the chancellor will request it, the wine will be added to the menu. 
  • Correct: When the chancellor requests it, the wine will be added to the menu. 

The incorrect version is stilted and borders on nonsensical. It does, however, illustrate the need for shifting tense within the same sentence. The second, corrected sentence clearly shows the relationship between the chancellor request and the addition of the wine to the menu.

Smooth transitions between sentences are crucial to having writing that flows. Avoid choppy writing by looking out for unnecessary shifts in verb tense when you do your final grammar check.

About the author 

Katie S has been writing for many years, either for academic reasons or for her own pleasure. She has been a freelance writer, concentrating on crafting concise, interesting and exciting copy for a variety of clients in many different industries, including the fields of law, medicine, sports and more. 


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