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Consistency in Verb Form

use of the same tense throughout a piece of writing Most writings are organized in either the simple present, the simple past, or the simple future tense. Changes in verb tense may help readers or listeners understand the temporal relationships among various narrated events. Unnecessary or inconsistent shifts in tense can cause confusion.

Tense Consistency

Some Rules to Remember


In sentences with more than one verb, it is important to keep the time sequence consistent. When showing a sequence of events, do not shift tenses unnecessarily.

Some Rules to Remember


Do not shift from one tense to another if the time frame for each action or state is the same. Do shift tense to indicate a change in time frame from one action or state to another.

A sentence with a compound verb should generally have both verbs in the same tense.
PAST

Incorrect: The receptionist sat at his PRESENT desk and ignores my question.
PAST

Correct: The receptionist sat at his PAST desk and ignored my question.

You should also not shift tenses unnecessarily from one sentence to another.
PAST

Incorrect: The actor collapsed on PRESENT stage. Then he sits up. PAST Correct: The actor collapsed on PAST stage. Then he sat up.

Sometimes, it will be necessary to shift tenses. Only the meaning can tell you for sure when you must shift tenses. PRESENT PRESENT Incorrect: If we have time, we visit our relatives. PRESENT FUTURE Correct: If we have time, we will visit our relatives.

Quiz

For numbers 1-7, write the correct form of the second verb. 1) I walk into the room and find no one there. 2) He got mad at the salesman and tells him to leave. 3) Beethoven wrote some of his best music after he becomes deaf.

For numbers 1-7, write the correct form of the second verb. 4) As soon as the operation was over, I visit him. 5) Romeo caught a glimpse of Juliet and will become smitten right away. 6) It has been several years since I last see my grandfather.

For numbers 1-7, write the correct form of the second verb. 7) If Kyru will do his best, he won the first prize. Fill in the blanks. Most writings are organized in either the 8)_______ _______, the 9)_______ _______, or the 10)_______ _______ tense.

Sources:
Prentice Hall GRAMMAR AND COMPOSITION by Forlini, G. et. al. Linking the World through English IV Students Textbook by Ignacio-Paez, D. et. al. www.daltonstate.edu/esl/Verb_Form_Errors.ppt