English grammar

Module 3, Verbs, Lesson 9:

Shifts in Verb Tense

Score:
English grammar
One day a princess went into the forest to play. She threw her golden ball into the air and almost caught it. It falls into the pond. She starts to cry. A frog hops onto a lilypad and asks her what is wrong. The princess told him that she had dropped her ball. He offered to get it for her.

Do you notice the problem?

Definition: A shift in verb tense is when the writer changes from one tense to another. Sometimes it is done on purpose, but some writers accidentally switch back and forth. Accidental shifting usually happens when a writer begins writing as if he or she is watching the story. It is usually told in past tense. Then as the writer gets absorbed in the story and feels like he or she is experiencing the story, the tense switches to present tense. When the writer gets distracted, the tense switches back to past tense.

It's important to choose a tense and stick to it. When you begin a piece, decide if it will be told in past or present tense. Most narratives or stories about things that have already happened use the past tense. Some authors use the present tense to pull the reader into the story. This can be very effective, but only if done carefully.

Note:
If you include dialogue, the quotations will usually be in a different tense (usually present tense) from the narration.

The example should read:

One day a princess went into the forest to play. She threw her golden ball into the air and almost caught it. It fell into the pond. She started to cry. A frog hopped onto a lilypad and asked her what was wrong. The princess told him that she had dropped her ball. He offered to get it for her.

Practice What You've Learned

English grammar
Directions:
Read the story. Pay attention to the clues as to the tense in which it should be written. Then click on any verbs that should be changed to the correct tense.
1.(10 points)
Once upon a time there is a boy named Jack. A giant had stolen his father's treasures, a golden goose and a magic harp, and has killed his father. Jack and his mother are very poor. The only thing they have left was an old cow. Jack was supposed to sell the cow at the market, but instead he trades it for a handful of magic beans. When his mother throws them out the window, they grew into a beanstalk that reached up to the giant's home. Jack climbed up the beanstalk and steals back the golden goose and the magic harp. He tricks the giant and the giant's wife. The giant chased Jack down the beanstalk, but Jack cuts down the beanstalk and killed the giant. Jack and his mother become rich and lived happily ever after.
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