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Thread: Essay writing - what tense?

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    Junior Member kendallkreene's Avatar
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    Essay writing - what tense?

    What tense would essay writing lean towards? I find that I start with present tense [Shakespeare uses the concept of...], but then I shift, [Actors in the Elizabethan era played... to highlight the concept of ...]

    What's the correct tense to stick with?

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    Re: Essay writing - what tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by kendallkreene View Post
    What tense would essay writing lean towards? I find that I start with present tense [Shakespeare uses the concept of...], but then I shift, [Actors in the Elizabethan era played... to highlight the concept of ...]

    What's the correct tense to stick with?
    If you're talking about what Shakespeare used, but with relation to quotes and techniques, use present (as you said - "Shakespeare uses").
    If talking about context, it's fine to say 'the Elizabethan era played".

    If it is something you are analysing with a current primary source, use present tense. If it relates to the past/events, use past tense.

    Idk if this makes sense.
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    Re: Essay writing - what tense?

    Not sure if it matters because I always see the tenses interchanged, e.g:

    Shakespeare uses alliteration....

    Alliteration is used by Shakespeare....
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    Re: Essay writing - what tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by pikachu975 View Post
    Not sure if it matters because I always see the tenses interchanged, e.g:

    Shakespeare uses alliteration....

    Alliteration is used by Shakespeare....
    This is interesting. Is passive voice ok in an essay?

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    Re: Essay writing - what tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by boredofstudiesuser1 View Post
    This is interesting. Is passive voice ok in an essay?
    Not really sure I'm not that good at english but I use the first example of present tense
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    Re: Essay writing - what tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by pikachu975 View Post
    Not sure if it matters because I always see the tenses interchanged, e.g:

    Shakespeare uses alliteration....

    Alliteration is used by Shakespeare....
    Idk if this helps, but usually I find its when I'm further explaining a topic, or adding additional techniques/analyse on a quote that I tend to do "furthermore, alliteration is used by Shakespeare to (blah)", but I start off by "Shakespeare uses alliteration to (blah)"

    TBH I never paid attention to my tense until now (and this is coming 8ish months after I did it), I don't think it matters too much, just as long as you've got a coherent paragraph that stays true to sexy/petal/teal etc. Active voice/present tense all the time seems too "telly/shouty", passive voice/past tense all the time seems too "boring". I probably tend to do present tense when I'm trying to hone down a point.
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    Re: Essay writing - what tense?

    Shakespeare uses alliteration....

    Alliteration is used by Shakespeare....

    Are they not both present tense? It's just that one is active and one is passive.

    But I've been told that it's better to avoid using the passive and to use the present tense, as that is what the "academics" do.
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    Re: Essay writing - what tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by jodongo View Post
    Shakespeare uses alliteration....

    Alliteration is used by Shakespeare....

    Are they not both present tense? It's just that one is active and one is passive.

    But I've been told that it's better to avoid using the passive and to use the present tense, as that is what the "academics" do.
    But both active and passive can be present tense?

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    Re: Essay writing - what tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by boredofstudiesuser1 View Post
    But both active and passive can be present tense?
    Yeah, that's right, actually. Passive and active can be both present tense, and they are especially in the Shakespeare alliteration examples. ^^ I think what he was trying to say is to try and use active tense more than passive??? Too much passive can convolute your essay, causing it to become difficult to read.
    What you were saying earlier about using past and present tenses was correct IMO, BTW. That's how I use them in my essays, too.

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