Verbs Again

Many times we use sentences that have clauses with a second verb in them. It’s important to keep the sense of time accurate. I liken it to keeping the boat on an even keel. We don’t want to lose balance, rocking the boat, and potentially ending up in a shipwreck.

I’d like to show some verb tenses and examples of how they can be used.

present/present

She knows the parade passes by her house every year.

present/past

I hear that you fell and broke your leg. What I don’t understand is why you climbed that tree in the first place.

past/past

I rushed out to the street when tires crunched, and a voice called for help.

past/prior past

We saw that George had hurt himself in a riding accident two years ago. He ignored the trainer’s instructions.

In this case, we are using the past tense to say that we knew about George’s accident. Then we use the prior past (often with “had”) to show that the action happened even earlier. Once that prior past is established  we don’t always need to include “had” in the verbs for the reader to know that we are still talking about the prior past. It can be done to reinforce that past setting but isn’t always necessary. You don’t want to end up with too many “had had’s.”

Above all, don’t mix your verb tenses randomly or you will confuse the reader and frustrate them, sometimes causing them to close your book forever.

We don’t want that to happen.

12 thoughts on “Verbs Again

  1. I struggled with verb tense when writing my query and synopsis, which needs to be in present tense. Yet there are things that need to be written in past tense in the mix. 🤷‍♀️ Thankfully, my critique partner walked me through.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We definitely need to put some thought into the use of different verb tenses. Great to have help from other writers. Reading the finished product out loud helps here, too. You can probably hear it right away if the verbs aren’t right.

      Liked by 1 person

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