Tenses

Tenses can be very complicated. If your story is written in the past tense, then you need to stick to this tense the whole way through. If it is in the present, then stick to the present. Don’t jump from one to another. CHECK for this very common mistake.

He knocked on the door and I went to open it. He was standing there, smiling, with a bunch of flowers in his hand. He kisses me on the cheek before I can stop him. I took the flowers but I did not smile. I am angry.

The paragraph above is a mixture of tenses. The writer needs to choose either the past tense or the present tense. This is a personal decision. Read the paragraphs below. One is in the past tense and the other the present tense. Both are correct now as the tenses are the same. Which one do you prefer?

He knocked on the door and I went to open it. He was standing there, smiling, with a bunch of flowers in his hand. He kissed me on the cheek before I could stop him. I took the flowers but I did not smile. I was angry.

He knocks on the door and I go to open it. He is standing there, smiling, with a bunch of flowers in his hand. He kisses me on the cheek before I can stop him. I take the flowers but I do not smile. I am angry.

To remind you of more unusual past tense verbs:

PRESENT / PAST
am / was
are / were
is / was
can / could
will / would
has / had
have / had

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