A common error in essay writing is in the use of time or verb tense (present, past and future forms). Native speakers of English use verb tenses unconsciously, but may use the incorrect form or change tenses inappropriately during writing (i.e. lose ‘sense’ by switching backwards and forwards between tenses). In academic writing, there are conventions about using tense correctly and about using tense consistently. You will need to know about:
- Recognising the tenses
- Using present tense in your writing
- Using past tense in your writing
- Using future tense in your writing
- Controlling shifts in verb tenses
Verbs in English give a sense of time in speech and writing. There are three main ‘times’ that we use to convey information: present, past and future. Verb tenses are used to express the relationship between time and other factors so that we can tell if an action is still in progress (present), completed (past), or predicting future action or events (future).
Thinking skills are very helpful for questioning information and opinions in a text.
Students are taught higher level thinking skills in the ASO training programs.
In the 1980s, many studies investigated the role of critical thinking skills in academic writing.
Before the 1970s, most information was reproduced uncritically by students in exams.
It is hoped that future generations will be skilful at critically assessing Internet data.
By the end of the course, students should have learned strategies for critical reading.
Some common reporting words in present tense for incorporating author names
acknowledges, adds, admits, affirms, agrees, argues, asserts, assumes, assures, challenges, claims, clarifies, comments, concedes, concludes, declares, demonstrates, denies, describes, disagrees, discusses, doubts, elaborates, emphasises, explains, implies, infers, informs, maintains, mentions, notes, observes, points out, presents, proves, questions, reasons, recognises, refutes, relates, remarks, reports, requests, responds, reveals, shows, states, suggests, thinks, urges, warns
Some common past tense irregular verbs
(bring) brought, (come) came/had come, (arise) arose/had arisen, (choose) chose/had chosen, (forbid) forbade/had forbidden, (lay) laid/had laid, (lie) lay/had lain, (lead) led/had led, (show) showed/had shown, (write) wrote/had written
Future tense can be used to express the writer’s assumptions, speculations and predictions about the future after a situation has been analysed and considered in the light of evidence.