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Grammar Tip: Be Careful with Tenses

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger on Mar 10, 2015 5:39:43 AM

Today I'd like to talk about tenses, specifically when to use the preterit (past) tense versus the pluperfect (past perfect) tense. While both tenses refer to things that have already happened, the pluperfect reference point is earlier than the preterit reference point.

 

Here are two examples:

 

Preterit tense: I wrote a book

Pluperfect tense: I had written a book

Both together: He wrote to me yesterday to tell me that he had read my book (he read my book before he wrote to me about it)

 

Past tense: Last year was hard for me

Pluperfect tense: Things had been hard for a while

Both together: It was hard to open the window because someone had nailed it shut (the window was nailed shut before I tried to open it)

 

I recently read a book that was written in the preterit tense. The problem was that the author kept using preterit and pluperfect tenses as if they are  interchangeable. This resulted in a bunch of sentences that sounded really strange and didn't make much sense together.

 

For example:

 

WHAT THE AUTHOR WROTE:

Things were now much more difficult. Over the last six months my disease progressed to the point where I was in constant pain.

 

WHAT THE AUTHOR SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN:

Things were now much more difficult. Over the last six months my disease HAD progressed to the point where I was in constant pain.

 

WHAT THE AUTHOR WROTE:

He knew what he needed to do. He fell in love with her, and it was time to tell her.

 

WHAT THE AUTHOR SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN:

He knew what he needed to do. He HAD FALLEN in love with her, and it was time to tell her.

 

Do you see the difference between the tenses? If you confuse your point of reference, you will confuse your readers. And you want your readers to be entertained, not confused!

 

-Maria

 

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg

 

Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Mar 10, 2015 9:13 AM Seal    says:

Yeah, I always have trouble with elevenses. Nineses aren't so bad, though.

 

Seal

Pier Pressure

Bunny Hunt has been kidnapped.

Ransom? $50,000

Delivery? Off the end of a pier

Problem? Wrong pier

http://www.stevenwjohnson.com

Feb 22, 2018 2:50 AM hellenrose    says:

I think the piece of information which you have provided here would be useful to all those who are interested in learning English. We usually make a lot of grammar mistake. The tips provided here would be useful to correct it. google chrome keeps freezing

Aug 9, 2018 2:33 AM JaneHatton    says:

I write blog articles for different websites and sometimes I really get confused with using these tenses I have recently written this article 146 Research Paper Topics but I'm not sure if everythig is correct...

 

Thanks for good examples))