Verb tenses in academic writing

The tense of the verb in a sentence reflects the time at which the action is set. In historical studies that is, by definition, in the past. The vast majority of verbs used in history papers are past-tense e. When the topic is literature, however, it's a different matter.

Verb tenses in academic writing

Academic writing generally concerns writing about research. You have several options for communicating research findings, and each has a different rhetorical effect. If you choose the present tense, as in Example 1. On the other hand, the past tense in Example 1.

However, if you are writing about specific research methods, the process of research and data collection, or what happened during the research process, you will more commonly use the past tense, as you would normally use in conversation.

The reason is that, in this instance, you are not emphasizing the findings of the research or its significance, but talking about events that occurred in the past. Here is an example: Prior to the interviews, the students responded to a brief questionnaire.

Books, Poems, Plays, Movies 2. When you are discussing a book, poem, movie, play, or song the convention in disciplines within the humanities is to use the present tense, as in: In cases where it is useful to contrast different ideas that originate from different periods, you can use the past and the present or present perfect tense to do so.

The past tense implies that an idea or a theory has lost its currency or validity, while the present tense conveys relevance or the current state of acceptance. For example, when you want to discuss the fact that a theory or interpretation has been supplanted by new perspectives on the subject: The verb tenses used above emphasize the contrast between the old view by Stanley Fishwhich is indicated by the past tense, and the new view by "recent literary critics"which is indicated by the present tense or the present perfect tense.

The difference between the present tense and the present perfect i. The future tense is standard in research proposals because they largely focus on plans for the future. However, when writing your research paper, use the past tense to discuss the data collection processes, since the development of ideas or experiments— the process of researching that brings the reader to your ultimate findings—occurred in the past.

Resumes and Cover Letters 5. In a resume, the past tense is used for reporting past experience and responsibilities. However, in a statement of purpose, a personal statement, or a cover letter, the present perfect tense is commonly used to relate past experience to present abilities, e.

Verb tenses in academic writing

The past tense is commonly used when writing a narrative or a story, as in: Some writers use the present tense in telling stories, a technique called the "historical present" that creates an air of vividness and immediacy. As we reviewed here, verb tenses can convey different meanings and degrees of precision, and most genres of academic writing follow specific conventions for tense and aspect.

Back to Grammar in College Writing.In scholarly writing, the most common verb tenses we use are the following: Use the simple present to describe a general truth, an action that is happening now, or an action that occurs on a regular basis: This study addresses the shortage of .

Non-verb forms 45 Extended Writing Task (Task or ) 46 Study Notes on Unit GRAMMAR FOR ACADEMIC WRITING Grammar for Academic Writing provides a selective overview of the key areas of English grammar that you tenses.

Task Some useful resources University of Melbourne Using Tenses in Scientific Writing University of Adelaide Tenses in Academic Writing Academic Writing Phrasebank.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License. You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout. Paying specific attention to verbs, the purpose of this unit is to support the creation of a more academic style of writing from students.

Suitable for KS3 and 4, and could be adapted for later years.

Tenses less used in academic writing Generally, academic writing is based on research or theories that already exist, have already happened, or refer to a current event or view. This means that the various forms of the future are less likely to be used in essays, although they might be used in reports. Most Common Verb Tenses in Academic Writing According to corpus research, in academic writing, the three tenses used the most often are the simple present, the simple past, and the present perfect. Verb Tense in Academic Writing The Literal v. The Literary. To understand why essay writers sometimes use present tense, and why other times they need to use the past tense, we first have to sort out the meanings of “literal” and “literary.”.

Modals in Academic Writing General use: Research examining multiple papers reveals that modal verbs are commonly used in academic writing. In fact, they are the third most widely used verb structure after present simple and past simple tense.

How to Do a Comprehensive Review of Verb Tenses for Intermediate ESL Students