Remember, moving from tense to tense can be very confusing. Mallory sees her returning son and, in her excitement, twisted her ankle rather badly. Her sister calls the doctor immediately. In this example, the verb "twisted" is the only verb that appears in the past tense.
It should appear in the present tense, "twists," or the other verbs should be changed to the past tense as well. Switching verb tenses upsets the time sequence of narration.
While it's possible to describe the historical past in the present tense, such a posture belongs more naturally to casual conversation than formal writing.
That is, when a speaker is trying to make his account of something which happened in the past seem more real to a listener, he may use the present tense, saying, for instance, "So, yesterday I'm standing in line at this store and some man comes in and robs it! The use of past tenses, on the other hand, makes it seem as if the speaker is more aloof and remote from what happened: "Yesterday I stood in line at a store and a man came in and robbed it.
Thus, to avoid the sense that they are neutral and unconcerned, speakers often use the present tense when relating a past action, since it lends the story a sense of being right there right then. After all, that's what the present tense is, by definition, "right here right now. The writing has the reader's full and undivided attention at all times, because I'm the reader and I'm totally involved—I guarantee it!
Nor do you need to encourage me to see the past vividly. I do that naturally, because it's my job and I love it. So, for your writing assignments in a history course, please don't use the present tense, when describing the past. Use the past tense, instead.
The Past Tense. Furthermore, to the same extent that the present tense is unnecessary in this particular context, the past tense is helpful. By stating the facts of history rather coolly in the past tense you appear calm and collected, which, in turn, makes your judgment seem more sober and reasoned. You don't look excited or excitable, and that's a good thing for a historian who's trying to convince others to see the past a certain way. Arguments in this arena work better when they appear to come from cool heads.
Let's look at how this works. Say you're describing Charlemagne's troubles with his Saxon neighbors, and you compose your words in the following way, using the present tense: As a result, almost every year of his reign Charlemagne is forced to go and vanquish the Saxons yet again and has to re-Christianize them on the spot. It's very vivid, isn't it, quite intense even? But it doesn't sound very critical or reasoned. These include: Present. Events occurring at the current moment in time.
Everything that occurs before the present. Everything that will happen after the current moment. To understand tense, first you have to understand the relative position you'll be using. Remember, tense is relative-past and future only exists in regards to a specific "present," and the present can be different depending on the situation. When you're writing, you may think of that particular moment as the present, but a person reading that paper days, weeks, or years later is going to think of their moment as the present, and the moment you're writing in as the past.
As with many things in grammar, there's no necessarily "right" way to look at this issue, but for our purposes here we're going to imagine the person reading your paper as being in the present tense. Finding the Right Tense for Your Field Every field has its own rules about verb tenses in academic writing. Some are fairly firm while others can be bent or mostly ignored if the writer so chooses. The advice here will be general and won't get into the specifics for any one field.
Instead, we're going to go through some general advice that will help you understand how to think about tense and should help you get started off on the right foot. Rules of Tense The conventions of tense in academic writing are complicated, but most of the time it all boils down to a simple question-do I use past or present tense?
The answer is usually that you need a mix of both. Below is a section-by-section breakdown of when to use past and present tense. The hormone ghrelin is one of the many biological factors that control appetite; this study looks at how ghrelin can be used to manipulate feeding behavior in mice. By using the present tense you directly involve the reader in your work and let them know that it's ongoing instead of something that's already moved into the past.
When to use past tense: Use the past tense to discuss specific aspects of your work that have already been completed the data was gathered from several sources or when discussing the specific work done by others in the past McIntyre showed that hormone levels rose steadily throughout the day.Remember, moving from tense to tense can be very confusing. Mallory sees her returning son and, in her excitement, twisted her ankle rather badly. Her sister calls the doctor immediately. In this example, the verb "twisted" is the only verb that appears in the past tense. Present-Tense Verbs. The tense of the verb in a sentence reflects the time at which the action is set. In historical studies that is, by definition, in the past.
When to use past tense: Use the past tense to discuss specific aspects of your work that have already been completed the data was gathered from several sources or when discussing the specific work done by others in the past McIntyre showed that hormone levels rose steadily throughout the day. In historical studies that is, by definition, in the past. Whatever you do, try not to flip back and forth between past and present verb forms. The passive voice allows you to move the subject of your research into a place in the sentence where it will have more focus.
In a situation like this, when both styles are equally grammatically correct, it becomes a choice of deciding which is better for your purposes.