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Consistent Tense


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Title: Consistent Tense

Consistent Tense
Consistent Tense
Consistent Tense
  • The 3 main tenses in English (and many other
    languages) are Past, Present and Future.  There
    are variations of each of these, but it is best
    to become totally comfortable and familiar with
    these in order to even attempt to understand the

Consistent Tense
  • The Rule
  • Consistency is Key
  • If you are writing about an event in the past -
    always use the past tense.  The same applies for
    present and future.  If you are unsure about
    which tense to use, simply refer to the last verb
    you wrote.  As with every rule, there are
    exceptions - but consistency is always your
    safest bet.

Consistent Tense
  • "As chief executive officer, Dorsey saw the
    startup through two rounds of funding by the
    venture capitalists who back the company."
  • We noticed something sounded wrong toward the end
    of the sentence.  Try reading it again, and see
    if you feel similarly - that something just
    doesn't quite sit right.
  • The sentence is describing something that already
    happened (i.e. the start of a company).  We know
    this, because of both the context, and the action
    verbs.  The first verb of the sentence - "saw" -
    appears in the past-tense verb form. 
  • Yet "back" is a present-tense form of the verb
    "back", meaning "support".   
  • The Solution
  • The verbs must be made consistent.  Since the
    action is in the past, the verbs need to reflect
    this.  Therefore, "back" needs to be changed to
    "backed", in order to be in the proper,
    past-tense verb form. 
  • (The source of our example error sentence is, a site that allows users the
    option to fix grammatical errors.)

Consistent Tense
  • Verb tense indicates the time of the verb past,
    present, or future, illustrating when an action
    takes place  After I get the call from the
    school (present), I will call my parents
  • When you write a paragraph, you need to be
    particularly careful to pay attention to the verb
    tenses throughout the entire paragraph.
    Unnecessary shifts in verb tenses can cause
  • I jumped when I heard the door slam. I run to the
    window to see if there were any cars outside. I
    stood frozen in the room, wondering what to do,
    so I fly up the stairs.
  • Suddenly,  as we were running toward the end
    zone, a huge dog jumps in front of the
  •  Dr. Eggleston was talking to the students about
    statistical analysis. She frowns when a loud
    hammering suddenly drowned out her voice.

Consistent Tense
  • Example of Inconsistent Tense
  • We were seven miles from shore. Suddenly the sky
    turns dark.
  • In the first sentence, the writer uses the past
    tense (with the verb were), but then shifts to
    present tense (with the verb turns) in the second
    sentence. The tenses are inconsistent because
    both actions happen at the same time in the
  • To correct the inconsistency, make both verbs the
    same tense
  • We were seven miles from shore. Suddenly the sky
    turned dark.

Consistent Person
  • Mixed Point of View We were slowly getting
    closer to our destination, but you could see that
    everyone was getting frustrated.
  • Theres really nothing confusing about this
    sentence we know exactly what it means.
  • This sentence has a mixed point of view. The
    pronoun We is 1st person plural the pronoun you
    is 2nd person and if we really want to get
    fanatical, the pronoun everyone is 3rd person
  • We frown upon this construction in standard
    written English. But its not confusing just

Consistent Person
  • 1st Per. 2nd Per. 3rd Person
  • Singular I You He, she, it, everyone,
    everybody, every student, James Thurber,
    Margaret Thatcher, every teacher,
  • Plural We You They, people, students, the
    French, soldiers,

Consistent Person
  • What about 1st Person I or We? Use the pronouns
    I or we only when giving personal examples or
    when the focus of the sentence is clearly on the
    writer. Enough said.
  • What about 2nd Person You? Do NOT use it. Ever.
    Unless youre writing instructions, telling
    people what to do, or asking rhetorical
    questions, please DO NOT use you, your, yours,
    youre, or anything that sounds like you in
    academic writing.

Directions Read the paragraphs for
consistent tense. Correct any inconsistencies by
retyping the paragraph in the shaded box.
The pomegranate is an ancient fruit native
to the Iranian plateau and India. Becoming
popular recently because of possible health
benefits, the pomegranate is about the size of an
orange with tough, leathery red skin. Inside were
channels containing seeds surrounded by pulp that
is used to make juice. This juice contains
chemicals that were high in antioxidants. It is
thought this juice may slow hardening of the
arteries and potentially fight cancer cells.
Pomegranates are found throughout literature
and were mentioned in the Bible, by Muhammad, and
in Greek mythology. For example, pomegranates
were central to the ancient Greek explanation of
the seasons. Persephone was the goddess of the
springs bounty, and one day she was playing in a
field with her friends. The god of the
underworld, Hades, kidnapped Persephone to make
her his bride. While in the underworld, Hades
offers Persephone pomegranate seeds, which she
had eaten. Persephones mother, the goddess of
the harvest, Demeter, is so distraught at her
daughters disappearance that she refused to
allow anything to grow until Persephone was
returned. Because the world was dying, Zeus
commanded Hades release his bride, but because
Persephone ate the pomegranate seeds, she was
required to return to the underworld each year
one month for every seed she did eat. The time
she spends in the underworld is winter, her
return is spring, and fall is the sadness of the
world preparing for her return to the underworld.
Part II Directions Read the essays for
consistent person. Correct any inconsistencies in
person by retyping the paragraph in the shaded
box. You may wish to revise or delete some
sentences for clarity.
The History of Tea Tea has been part of human
culture for more than 5000 years. According to
legend, Chinese emperor Shen Nung had dictated
that all drinking water be boiled because they
felt it was a hygienic precaution. One day, his
servants were boiling the water and dried leaves
from a nearby bush fell into the pot, infusing a
brown liquid. Shen Nung was interested, drank
some of the liquid, and liked it. The history of
drinking tea was born.
Europeans first encountered tea during the
sixteenth century when the Portuguese began
trading with China. He or she shipped tea to
Lisbon, then Dutch ships transported it to
France, Holland and the Baltic countries. Tea
became very fashionable in the Dutch capital of
The Hague, but because if the enormous cost of
over 100 per pound, only the very wealthy could
afford it. However, imports increased and we saw
the cost drop. Because of this, the beverage
became affordable to the common man.
      Because the Dutch were active traders in
the New World, tea was popular in America before
it was popular in England. Colonists in the
seventeenth century Dutch settlement of New
Amsterdam (later New York) were confirmed tea
drinkers we can understand why the Boston Tea
Party occurred in 1773 if the nation was already
addicted to their tea!
By the early 18th century, the English, they were
also a nation of tea drinkers. Prior to its
introduction, the English had two main meals each
day breakfast and dinner. Anna, Duchess of
Bedford, adopted the European tea service when
she invited friends to join her for an additional
afternoon meal in the late afternoon. The drink
was tea, and the meal included small cakes and
bread and butter sandwiches. The afternoon was so
popular that we soon began to see tea time spread
throughout England.
Part III Directions Read the essays for
consistent tense and consistent person. Correct
any inconsistencies in person by retyping the
paragraph in the shaded box. You may wish to
revise or delete some sentences for clarity.
  Online Dating Online dating was among the
first services offered on the Internet. Early
providers, such as America Online and Prodigy,
heavily advertised chat rooms for singles and,
despite certain limitations in technology, online
dating were robust. We thought meeting a stranger
in a chat room and talking is a new, exciting way
to find a mate.
The first internet dating sites was and, which came online in 1994 and 1995.
The concept took off. By 1996 there are 16 dating
services listed on Yahoo!. Online dating really
took off in 1998 with the release of Youve Got
Mail!, the romantic comedy about two rival
business people who find love with each other
online. The move puts online dating in a positive
light and showcased the abilities of bringing
people together via the Web. Still, I felt there
was a stigma attached to finding a date online.
      The founding of Friendster and MySpace in
2002 and Facebook in 2004 changes the way people
looked at online dating. Social networking has
helped us change attitudes, and online dating
continues to thrive. According to Online Dating
Magazine, more than 20 million people visits at
least one online dating site every month and
120,000 marriages take place every year.
Interestingly, the most popular sites for
online dating are not or
but sites such as Craigslist, where I can just
post a quick ad rather than fill out an extensive
questionnaire and upload pictures. This is not to
say these dating sites arent thriving, for they
are. But with the popularity of social networking
and online classifieds, general dating sites
have, for many, been replaced.
In-Text Citations
  • MLA format follows the author-page method of
    in-text citation. This means that the author's
    last name and the page number(s) from which the
    quotation or paraphrase is taken must appear in
    the text, and a complete reference should appear
    on your Works Cited page. The author's name may
    appear either in the sentence itself or in
    parentheses following the quotation or
    paraphrase, but the page number(s) should always
    appear in the parentheses, not in the text of
    your sentence.

In-Text Citations
  • Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked
    by a "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings"
    (263). Romantic poetry is characterized by the
    "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings"
    (Wordsworth 263).
  • Wordsworth extensively explored the role of
    emotion in the creative process (263).
  • Both citations in the examples above, (263) and
    (Wordsworth 263), tell readers that the
    information in the sentence can be located on
    page 263 of a work by an author named Wordsworth.

In-Text Citations
  • If readers want more information about this
    source, they can turn to the Works Cited page,
    where, under the name of Wordsworth, they would
    find the following information
  • Wordsworth, William. Lyrical Ballads. London
    Oxford U.P., 1967. Print.

In-Text Citations
  • For Print sources like books, magazines,
    scholarly journal articles, and newspapers,
    provide a signal word or phrase (usually the
    authors last name) and a page number. If you
    provide the signal word/phrase in the sentence,
    you do not need to include it in the
    parenthetical citation.
  • Human beings have been described by Kenneth Burke
    as "symbol-using animals" (3). Human beings have
    been described as "symbol-using animals" (Burke

In-Text Citations
  • When a source has no known author, use a
    shortened title of the work instead of an author
    name. Place the title in quotation marks if it's
    a short work (e.g. articles) or italicize it if
    it's a longer work (e.g. plays, books, television
    shows, entire websites) and provide a page
  • We see so many global warming hotspots in North
    America likely because this region has more
    readily accessible climatic data and more
    comprehensive programs to monitor and study
    environmental change . . . (Impact of Global
    Warming 6).

In-Text Citations
  • Sometimes more information is necessary to
    identify the source from which a quotation is
    taken. For instance, if two or more authors have
    the same last name, provide both authors' first
    initials (or even the authors' full name if
    different authors share initials) in your
    citation. For example
  • Although some medical ethicists claim that
    cloning will lead to designer children (R. Miller
    12), others note that the advantages for medical
    research outweigh this consideration (A. Miller

In-Text Citations
  • For a source with three or fewer authors, list
    the authors' last names in the text or in the
    parenthetical citation
  • Smith, Yang, and Moore argue that tougher gun
    control is not needed in the United States (76).
  • The authors state "Tighter gun control in the
    United States erodes Second Amendment rights"
    (Smith, Yang, and Moore 76).

In-Text Citations
  • If you cite more than one work by a particular
    author, include a shortened title for the
    particular work from which you are quoting to
    distinguish it from the others.
  • Lightenor has argued that computers are not
    useful tools for small children ("Too Soon" 38),
    though he has acknowledged elsewhere that early
    exposure to computer games does lead to better
    small motor skill development in a child's second
    and third year ("Hand-Eye Development" 17).

In-Text Citations
  • Additionally, if the author's name is not
    mentioned in the sentence, you would format your
    citation with the author's name followed by a
    comma, followed by a shortened title of the work,
    followed, when appropriate, by page numbers
  • Visual studies, because it is such a new
    discipline, may be "too easy" (Elkins, "Visual
    Studies" 63).

In-Text Citations
  • Sometimes you may have to use an indirect source.
    An indirect source is a source cited in another
    source. For such indirect quotations, use "qtd.
    in" to indicate the source you actually
    consulted. For example
  • Ravitch argues that high schools are pressured to
    act as "social service centers, and they don't do
    that well" (qtd. in Weisman 259).
  • Note that, in most cases, a responsible
    researcher will attempt to find the original
    source, rather than citing an indirect source.

In-Text Citations
  • When a Citation Is Not Needed
  • Common sense and ethics should determine your
    need for documenting sources. You do not need to
    give sources for familiar proverbs, well-known
    quotations or common knowledge. Remember, this is
    a rhetorical choice, based on audience. If you're
    writing for an expert audience of a scholarly
    journal, for example, they'll have different
    expectations of what constitutes common
  • Its always better to be safe though and protect
    yourself by giving credit to the author.

Works Cited page
  • Works Cited
  • "Blueprint Lays Out Clear Path for Climate
    Action." Environmental Defense Fund.
    Environmental Defense Fund, 8 May 2007. Web. 24
    May 2009.
  • Clinton, Bill. Interview by Andrew C. Revkin.
    Clinton on Climate Change. New York Times. New
    York Times, May 2007. Web. 25 May 2009.
  • Dean, Cornelia. "Executive on a Mission Saving
    the Planet." New York Times. New York Times, 22
    May 2007. Web. 25 May 2009.
  • Ebert, Roger. "An Inconvenient Truth." Rev. of An
    Inconvenient Truth, dir. Davis Guggenheim. Sun-Times News Group, 2 June
    2006. Web. 24 May 2009.
  • Cooler Heads Coalition, 2007.
    Web. 24 May 2009.

Works Cited page
  • Basic Format
  • The first-give authors name or a book with a
    single author's name appears in last name, first
    name format. The basic form for a book citation
  • Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. Place of
    Publication Publisher, Year of Publication.
    Medium of Publication.
  • Book with One Author
  • Gleick, James. Chaos Making a New Science. New
    York Penguin, 1987. Print.
  • Henley, Patricia. The Hummingbird House. Denver
    MacMurray, 1999. Print.

Works Cited page
  • Book with More Than One Author
  • The first given name appears in last name, first
    name format subsequent author names appear in
    first name last name format.
  • Gillespie, Paula, and Neal Lerner. The Allyn and
    Bacon Guide to Peer Tutoring. Boston Allyn,
    2000. Print.
  • If there are more than three authors, you may
    choose to list only the first author followed by
    the phrase et al. (Latin for "and others") in
    place of the subsequent authors' names, or you
    may list all the authors in the order in which
    their names appear on the title page. (Note that
    there is a period after al in et al. Also
    note that there is never a period after the et
    in et al.).
  • Wysocki, Anne Frances, et al. Writing New Media
    Theory and Applications for Expanding the
    Teaching of Composition. Logan, UT Utah State
    UP, 2004. Print.

Works Cited page
  • Book with No Author
  • List by title of the book. Incorporate these
    entries alphabetically just as you would with
    works that include an author name. For example,
    the following entry might appear between entries
    of works written by Dean, Shaun and Forsythe,
  • Encyclopedia of Indiana. New York Somerset,
    1993. Print.

Works Cited page
  • Article in a Magazine
  • Cite by listing the article's author, putting the
    title of the article in quotations marks, and
    italicizing the periodical title. Follow with the
    date of publication. Remember to abbreviate the
    month. The basic format is as follows
  • Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of
    Periodical Day Month Year pages. Medium of
  • Poniewozik, James. "TV Makes a Too-Close Call."
    Time 20 Nov. 2000 70-71. Print.
  • Buchman, Dana. "A Special Education." Good
    Housekeeping Mar. 2006 143-48. Print.

Works Cited page
  • Article in a Newspaper
  • Cite a newspaper article as you would a magazine
    article, but note the different pagination in a
    newspaper. If there is more than one edition
    available for that date (as in an early and late
    edition of a newspaper), identify the edition
    following the date (e.g., 17 May 1987, late ed.).
  • Brubaker, Bill. "New Health Center Targets
    County's Uninsured Patients." Washington Post 24
    May 2007 LZ01. Print.
  • Krugman, Andrew. "Fear of Eating." New York Times
    21 May 2007 late ed. A1. Print.

Works Cited page
  • An Article in a Scholarly Journal
  • In previous years, MLA required that researchers
    determine whether or not a scholarly journal
    employed continuous pagination (page numbers
    began at page one in the first issue of the years
    and page numbers took up where they left off in
    subsequent ones) or non-continuous pagination
    (page numbers begin at page one in every
    subsequent issue) in order to determine whether
    or not to include issue numbers in bibliographic
    entries. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research
    Papers 7th edition (2009) eliminates this step.
    Always provide issue numbers, when available.
  • Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Journal
    Volume.Issue (Year) pages. Medium of
  • Bagchi, Alaknanda. "Conflicting Nationalisms The
    Voice of the Subaltern in Mahasweta Devi's Bashai
    Tudu." Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 15.1
    (1996) 41-50. Print.

Works Cited page
  • Important Note on the Use of URLs in MLA
  • MLA no longer requires the use of URLs in MLA
    citations. Because Web addresses are not static
    (i.e. they change often) and because documents
    sometimes appear in multiple places on the Web
    (e.g. on multiple databases), MLA explains that
    most readers can find electronic sources via
    title or author searches in Internet Search
  • For instructors or editors that still wish to
    require the use of URLs, MLA suggests that the
    URL appear in angle brackets after the date of
    access. Break URLs only after slashes.
  • Aristotle. Poetics. Trans. S. H. Butcher. The
    Internet Classics Archive. Web Atomic and
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 13 Sept.
    2007. Web. 4 Nov. 2008. http//

Works Cited page
  • Here are some common features you should try and
    find before citing electronic sources in MLA
    style. Not every Web page will provide all of the
    following information. However, collect as much
    of the following information as possible both for
    your citations and for your research notes
  • Author and/or editor names (if available)
  • Article name in quotation marks (if applicable)
  • Title of the Website, project, or book in
    italics. (Remember that some Print publications
    have Web publications with slightly different
    names. They may, for example, include the
    additional information or otherwise modified
    information, like domain names e.g. .com or
  • Any version numbers available, including
    revisions, posting dates, volumes, or issue
  • Publisher information, including the publisher
    name and publishing date.
  • Take note of any page numbers (if available).
  • Date you accessed the material.
  • URL (if required, or for your own personal

Works Cited page
  • Citing an Entire Web Site
  • It is necessary to list your date of access
    because web postings are often updated, and
    information available on one date may no longer
    be available later. Be sure to include the
    complete address for the site.
  • Remember to use n.p. if no publisher name is
    available and n.d. if no publishing date is
  • Editor, author, or compiler name (if available).
    Name of Site. Version number. Name of
    institution/organization affiliated with the site
    (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation
    (if available). Medium of publication. Date of
  • The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab
    and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2008. Web. 23
    Apr. 2008.

Works Cited page
  • A Page on a Web Site
  • For an individual page on a Web site, list the
    author or alias if known, followed by the
    information covered above for entire Web sites.
    Remember to use n.p. if no publisher name is
    available and n.d. if no publishing date is
  • "How to Make Vegetarian Chili." eHow,
    n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2009.

Works Cited page
  • E-mail (including E-mail Interviews)
  • Give the author of the message, followed by the
    subject line in quotation marks. State to whom to
    message was sent, the date the message was sent,
    and the medium of publication.
  • Kunka, Andrew. "Re Modernist Literature."
    Message to the author. 15 Nov. 2000. E-mail.
  • Neyhart, David. "Re Online Tutoring." Message to
    Joe Barbato. 1 Dec. 2000. E-mail.

Works Cited page
  • An Interview
  • Interviews typically fall into two categories
    print or broadcast published and unpublished
    (personal) interviews, although interviews may
    also appear in other, similar formats such as in
    email format or as a Web document.
  • Personal Interviews
  • Personal interviews refer to those interviews
    that you conduct yourself. List the interview by
    the name of the interviewee. Include the
    descriptor Personal interview and the date of the
  • Purdue, Pete. Personal interview. 1 Dec. 2000.

Works Cited page
  • Films or Movies
  • List films (in theaters or not yet on DVD or
    video) by their title. Include the name of the
    director, the film studio or distributor, and the
    release year. If relevant, list performer names
    after the directors name. Use the abbreviation
    perf. to head the list. List film as the medium
    of publication. To cite a DVD or other video
    recording, see Recorded Films and Movies below.
  • The Usual Suspects. Dir. Bryan Singer. Perf.
    Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri,
    Stephen Baldwin, and Benecio del Toro. Polygram,
    1995. Film.
  • To emphasize specific performers (perf.) or
    directors (dir.), begin the citation with the
    name of the desired performer or director,
    followed by the appropriate abbreviation.
  • Lucas, George, dir. Star Wars Episode IV A New
    Hope. Twentieth Century Fox, 1977. Film.