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Video Transcripts

Grammar for Academic Writers: Verb Tense Consistency

Last update 2/6/2018

 

Visual: Walden logo at bottom of screen along with notepad and pencil background.

Audio: Guitar music.

 

Visual: The video’s title is displayed on a background image of books on a table. The screen opens to the following slide: Verb Tense Consistency in a Sentence

Within a Sentence:

  • There are times verb tense should be the same
  • There are times verb tense will change

Bakke (2015) conducted the interviews and then transcribed them. (Both past tense)

Herrington (2014) found that the survey participants drink an average of 2.2 cups of coffee per day. (Past and present tenses)

The researchers explained that identifying a cause will be difficult. (Past and future tenses)

Audio: So, regarding verb tense, kind of the one error that we sometimes see is errors in consistency throughout a sentence. So, there are times when the verb tense needs to be the same throughout a sentence and there are times that it will change throughout the sentence.

So, we can take a look at these examples: “Bakke conducted the interviews and then transcribed them.” So, it’s talking about two things that Bakke did. Both of these actions belong to the author or they’re something the author did. So, it makes sense for them to be consistent, that they’re both in the past tense.

In the next two examples, we see a shift in verb tense. So, “Herrington found,” past tense “that the survey participants drink,” present tense, “an average of 2.2 cups of coffee per day.” And, “The researchers explained,” past tense, “that identifying a cause will be,” future tense, “difficult.”

 

Visual: The word “that” is circled in the last two example sentences:

Herrington (2014) found that the survey participants drink an average of 2.2 cups of coffee per day. (Past and present tenses)

The researchers explained that identifying a cause will be difficult. (Past and future tenses)

 

Audio: So, one characteristic of these last two sentences is that they use the word "that." So, in this sentence structure, the word “that” introduces a noun clause. And, that's not a term that you need to remember, but that's what it's called. These noun clauses are often used to report what other people think or have said. Such as when, you know, maybe you’re introducing a paraphrase or a summary or a quote. So, when you’re introducing what a researcher said or did, in this sentence structure, you may need to shift the verb tense to explain what they found or, or future action.

 

Visual: The following example is added to the slide:

The researcher said identifying a cause will be difficult.

Audio: One thing to note is that sometimes in English the word “that” is left out of the sentence, especially in spoken language. So, a person might say, “The researcher said identifying a cause will be difficult.” So, just keep in mind it's sometimes okay to drop the “that” from the sentence. So, just looking for the word "that" might not be an effective strategy. When deciding if you should shift the tense in the sentence, try to think about whether the sentence includes a report about what a researcher or another person said or did and that might help you decide.

 

Visual: The screen changes to end with the words “Walden University Writing Center” and “Questions? E-mail writingsupport@waldenu.edu.”