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Avoiding incorrect shifts in verb tense

You will use many different tenses within your writing and shifts between tense are fine, as long as they accurately represent the action described by the passage. Where learners sometimes encounter difficulties is when they mix verb tenses within a sentence or description.

For example, "the tide is high and it flooded the road". 

  • "is" indicates simple present tense; "flooded" indicates simple past tense. Choose the correct tense and use that tense throughout the sentence: the tide was high and it flooded the road.

For more information, examples, and self-test exercises, please refer to: The OWL at Purdue: Verb Tense Consistency.

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