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1. Watch your verb tenses.o Don’t shift back and forth in time unless you have a good reason.
Illogical Shift in Verb Tense Past tenseo I started writing my essay last night at 9p.m. and then finish it five minutes beforeclass today. Present tense
Consistent Verb Tense Past tenseI started writing my essay last night at 9p.m. and then finished it five minutesbefore class today. Past tense
Logical Shift in Verb Tense Past tense I started writing my essay last night at 9 p.m., but I will not do that any more. Future tense
2. Watch your pronouns. Don’t move back and forth between first-, second-, and third-person pronouns unless you have a good reason.
PRONOUNS: The System SINGULAR PLURAL 1st person I (me/my) we (us/our) (= the person who is writing or speaking) 2nd person you (your) you (your) (= the person who is being written or spoken to) 3rd person he (him/his) they she (her) (them/their) (= the person or it (its) thing being one (one’s) written about)
Illogical Shift in Person Third PersonEveryone can become a good writeronce you learn how to revise andedit. Second Person
Consistent Point of View1st Person o I can become a good writer once I learn how to revise and edit.2nd Person o You can become a good writer once you learn how to revise and edit.3rd Person o Everyone can become a good writer once he or she learns how to revise and edit.
3. Watch active/passive voice.o Don’t shift back and forth between active and passive voice unless you have a good reason.o In an active sentence, the subject performs the action. o She took my sister’s old job. o The subject, she, performed the action in this sentence—she did the taking.
Watch active/passive voice. o In a passive sentence, the subject is acted upon. o My sister’s old job was taken by her. o The subject, job, receives the action in this sentence—it was taken.
Illogical Shift in Voice Activeo Jill and I started the report, and it was finished by another team. Passive
Consistent Voice Active Jill and I started the report, and another team finished it. Active
Generally, prefer the active voice:Passive o The directions were given by the teacher.Active o The teacher gave the directions.Passive o Economic declines are often caused by rising interest rates.Active o Rising interest rates often cause economic declines.
To review illogical shifts in tense,person, and voice, see Chapter 17.