A tense shift occurs when a writer accidentally switches from one tense to another in the same story, essay, or paragraph. While it may be necessary to shift to another tense when writing different plots, an accidental shift usually comes about when distracted. It is common for writers to start in the third person in the past tense, get gradually absorbed by the story, become a part of it, and move to the present tense. Others keep shifting tenses back and forth in the course of their writing.
How do you identify the sentences that contain an incorrect verb tense shift?
For starters, it is important that you choose a tense at the start of your writing and stick to it. Before you write the first word, decide whether the plot takes place in the past or present tense. Carefully write your actions so that they match the timeline that you have picked. Here is an example.
One day, Mary went to the farmers’ market. She bought oranges, pineapples, and cucumber. On her way to the bus stations, she stumbles on a stone and falls.
In this sentence, the writer accidentally moved from the past tense and came to the present simple in the second sentence. With the help of a tense shift checker, you can get rid of such mistakes in your writing. The sentence should have read, “She stumbled on a stone and fell.”
Are Verb Tense Shifts Always Bad?
No verb shifts are not always wrong. Sometimes, they are necessary to inform the leaders of actions that happened at different times. Here is an example, “When I reached the office, James had already left.” This sentence uses the simple past and past perfect to show two different actions and the way they relate (reaching the office and leaving – leaving happened before reaching the office).
Writers may also use verb shifts to describe different settings and present different points of view in a passage.
Here is an example, “According to John, it was necessary to get additional funding to complete the project. However, Mary thought that it would be good to cut costs and utilize the available resources.” In this passage, John favors additional funding, while Mary favors financial efficiency. Different verb tenses are in use to differentiate their points of view.
However, there are times when verb shifts are unacceptable. This includes cases when the writer moves abruptly from one verb tense to another in the middle of the sentence or paragraph without a clear need. If you mix events that happened in the past with the present ones, the readers get confused and are unable to follow the story. A tense changer can help determine what tense should be used in each passage.
How Can Writers Go about Correcting the Shift in Verb Tense?
There are several ways to identify the sentences that contain an incorrect tense shift in your passage. Here are a few of them:
Read through your work after writing
If you are wondering how to find a tense shift in your paper, read your story after writing. You will definitely find out areas you deviated from the primary tense. Therefore, it is important to write your paper in good time so that you have time to go through the work, correcting the shift in verb tense as you go.
Use the shifting tense online checker
You can check for tense shift online using our tool. It is a versatile, convenient, online tool that detects any tense shifts in your work. Our tool comes with a present and past tense checker to change the verb tense, according to your article. Read the section below to find other features of the tool.
Other Tense Identifier Features that are Beneficial to Your Writing
Present tense converter
If you write your content in the present tense and accidentally shifts to past tense, this tool can help change your tense accordingly. It is accurate and does not miss instances of verb tense shift.
Past tense converter
If you write a historical essay or content, our tool helps you find instances you have shifted from the primary tense and converts them to past tense. This tool understands your context and helps you make the necessary changes.
All-purpose grammar checker
After learning how to make a shift in a verb tense, this tool will check the rest of the sentence to determine if it follows grammar and spelling rules. It is also able to check the noun-verb agreement, missing punctuation, and poor word choice.
Quick Guide on How to Fix Tense-Related Mistakes with Our Tense Shift Finder
Our shifting tense online checker is easy to use and does not require any technical knowledge. As said earlier, it does not miss any tense shifts in your writing. Here is how to use it:
- Open the app to help with tense issues on your device browser
- Copy your work and paste on its editor
- Allow it to run and find errors
- Go through the suggestions that it makes on various sections and correct them accordingly
- Copy your work from the editor and paste it into your word document
- Save the corrected document