Verb Tense Shifts

There is a misconception that all verbs in a paragraph should be in the same tense. The choice of the appropriate verb tense depends on context and meaning.   

Study the following passage that demonstrates logical shifts in verb tense:

Yesterday I went [simple past] to Admissions and Records to pay my fees; today I am going [present progressive] to the University Transportation Office to pick up my free bus pass; tomorrow I will go [simple future] to the bookstore to buy my texts and to the health center to get my flu shot. I usually only do [simple present] one or two errands per week, but I have discovered [past perfect] that I always have [simple present] too much to do at the beginning of the semester.

Incorrect Tense Shifts

The Chemistry Dept. has just changed the prerequisites for Chem 200. Now instead of taking it after Chem 101, students must also have completed Chem 102 before they have enrolled. In addition, students must have declared a Chemistry major and concentration before they have been allowed to take Chem 200. This has been problematic for many students because the office often has taken up to six months to process students' declaration of major.

Correct Tense Shifts

The Chemistry Dept. has just changed the prerequisites for Chem 200. Now instead of taking it after Chem 101, students must also have completed Chem 102 before they enroll. In addition, students must have declared a Chemistry major and concentration before they will be allowed to take Chem 200. This has been problematic for many students because the office often has taken up to six months to process students' declaration of major.

Practice

Correct the following:

The Office of International Studies has just started a Partner Program that pairs American students with international students who will only have been in the United States for a short time. Both students and professors are happy with this program. The students are happy because the program has proven to be a great way to have met new friends and learned about other cultures. The professors are happy because they have been able to assign their students to discuss certain topics with an international partner to gain a broader perspective and a better understanding of the curriculum.

References

Examples are adapted from:

Bruce, S., & Rafoth, B. A. (2009). ESL Writers: A guide for writing center tutors. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.