Answered By: Rachel Willard
Last Updated: May 08, 2017     Views: 2622

To make your verb tenses consistent, do your best to use the verb tense that corresponds to the perspective from which you are writing.

  • If you are writing about something after it happened, use the past tense.
  • If you are writing about something that is still happening, use the present tense.
  • If you are writing about something that hasn’t happened yet, use the future tense.

One thing you can do to help keep your verb tenses consistent is make sure to follow APA guidelines consistently. Here are a few examples:

  • If you are discussing previously published authors, always discuss them in the past tense.
  • If you are writing a proposal and describing things that haven’t happened yet (such as data collection and analysis), use the future tense.
  • If something happened at a specific, definite point in time in the past, use the past tense.
  • If you are referring to an ongoing truth about reality or constant aspect of a theory or principle, use the present tense.

Another way to make sure you use verb tenses consistently is to read over each paragraph carefully and look for any shifts. Are you talking about an event using the past tense at the beginning of a paragraph, and by the end you are talking about it in the present? If so, change your verb tenses so they all agree. 


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