Literary Papers Tense

Use of the correct verb tense allows you to express clearly the time relationships among your ideas.

When deciding which verb tense to use, aim for consistency, simplicity, and clarity.

Verb tense to describe action in text The As much as possible, try to be consistent with your chosen verb tense within a section as doing so "can help ensure smooth expression" (p. If the verb tenses suggested above don't make sense for the purposes of your document, please check with your instructor or academic supervisor to get their opinion on the best approach for your document. Please contact the Writing Centre as we'd be pleased to assist you.

Theresa Bell Manager, Blended Learning Success (Published in Crossroads February 27, 2019) Reference American Psychological Association.

Don’t worry—it’s not a completely new type of tense. For most purposes, “literary present tense” is the same as present tense.

Literary present tense means that you need to write in present tense when writing about literature and the arts. It’s called literary present tense to remind you that, when discussing literature and other arts, such as artwork or films, you need to write in present tense.If you have questions about tense or other writing concerns, check with your professor. Deciding the appropriate verb tense usually comes down to using the one that best reflects the time period of the action described in the text, but authors may find choosing the correct verb tense for signal phrases and specific sections of major projects, theses, dissertations or journal articles more complicated.Thus, you’ll write about the arts in present tense.This is different than writing about other subjects, such as history or science.The APA manual discusses tense in the section on Smoothness of Expression on Page 65.The lit review of an APA style paper should be in past tense (The researchers found...) or present perfect (The researchers have shown...).Historical events occurred in the past, so they’re written about in past tense.If you’re writing about your science experiment, you completed the experiment in the past.Keep in mind that when I say “discussing literature,” this applies both to the discussions about literature you might have in class and to writing a literary analysis essay.When writing about literature and the arts, you need to assume that you’re discussing the artistic work in the perpetual present, meaning that it’s always there, always present. The Shining is the same book today as it was when it was written, and it will exist in the same form years from now.


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