Running is the thing right now. Everywhere I look, it seems that people are talking about running. My Twitter timeline is flooded with people’s tweets about 5k, 10k, and LSD! (Apparently, that means long slow distance and not what I initially thought.) On Facebook, I see wall posts about runs left and right. It’s the same thing with forums.
Here’s one post that caught my eye and gave me an idea for today’s grammar post.
i started running because i want to be more active. now i run because i love it and i’m obsessed with it.
Let’s get the capitalization mistakes out of the way so we can focus on the structure.
I started running because I want to be more active. Now I run because I love it, and I’m obsessed with it.
I have one phrase for you: verb tense consistency.
Verb tense consistency is one of the most basic things that we need to pay attention to when writing. There is only one thing to remember: when you start using a certain verb tense, stick with it unless you have a particularly good reason to switch to another verb tense.
Take a look at the first sentence in the example above: I started running because I want to be more active.
The person who wrote it started with the past tense and then switched to the present tense. Bearing the simple rule of consistency in mind, we can fix this, and come up with the correct form.
I started running because I wanted to be more active.
Here’s another example.
Kelsier is not the strongest character in the story, but he did not have any major weaknesses either.
Here’s the fix.
Kelsier is not the strongest character in the story, but he does not have any major weaknesses either.
Simple, right? The thing is that when you are writing a 1,000-word article with several more pieces waiting in line, it can be very easy to slip up and switch tenses. One reason is that in casual spoken English, tenses are sometimes mixed up. As writers, we are not immune to verb tense consistency mistakes. However, it is also our responsibility to double check our work so that we can catch such mistakes.
Do you have any verb consistency stories to share?
Photo via Francis Storr