The Past-Past Tense

 :: Writing Issues :: SPaG

View previous topic View next topic Go down

The Past-Past Tense

Post by Guest on Thu Jun 11, 2009 5:14 pm

Yes, your friendly neighborhood SPaG boy has a question.

I'm in the middle of writing a little chunk that goes into more of a past tense than the rest of the chunk. scratch

Kinda like:

Stuffity stuff stuff written in past tense.
Some stuff that happens futherback in time than the regular past tense.
Return to the original past tense.


I don't usually find myself in this kind of conundrum, but I'm a little at a loss as to how to set up the verbs for this more past past tense, the part there in the middle. I'm re-reading the section and the preponderance of auxiliary verbs to force the reader to stay in the flashbacked time zone just feels horrendously wrong.

Helps?

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: The Past-Past Tense

Post by ebyss on Thu Jun 11, 2009 6:27 pm

There are no verbs that I know of that actually change from beyond yesterday.

I rode the bike yesterday, and when I thought about it yesterday, I rode the bike three weeks ago.

When I am reading a book written in third person past tense, and they go into.. um.. let's say.. into their childhood. They usually denote the flashback with different format or italics, or they might say.. Twenty years earlier.

I hope that helps because I am not even sure that I understand the question or your dilema completely.

ebyss
Senior Member
Senior Member

Posts : 653
Joined : 2009-02-23

Back to top Go down

Re: The Past-Past Tense

Post by NaClmine on Thu Jun 11, 2009 6:52 pm

A long, looooong time ago, I was . . . LOL
avatar
NaClmine
Senior Member
Senior Member

Male
Posts : 397
Location : California
Joined : 2009-02-10

http://www.lasthumanwar.com

Back to top Go down

Re: The Past-Past Tense

Post by Sam W on Sun Jun 14, 2009 4:10 am

There actually are verbs for this kind of thing. They're called "pluperfect" verbs. Take a look at these two examples. The first is just ordinary past tense.

"I went to the store yesterday."

Nothing fancy about that. Just plain old-fashioned past tense. However, if I want to say that the action of going to the store was done at an earlier time than yesterday, I use a pluperfect construction as so:

"I had gone to the store to get my weekly groceries."

The "had gone" part denotes that the action took place in the distant past.

Pluperfect terms are formed by the word "had" and the past participle of a word. So, "I jumped the wall" becomes "I had jumped the wall".

Sam W
New Member

Posts : 19
Joined : 2009-02-09

Back to top Go down

Re: The Past-Past Tense

Post by NaClmine on Sun Jun 14, 2009 1:59 pm

Very good Sam. Actually, "pluperfect" is the French term for "past perfect". Here is a helpful verb tense chart that illustrates the choices but fails to offer much explanation. They should hire you, Sam, to add definition! LOL

Verb tense chart -
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/601/01/

It's also important in writing to keep proper "verb tense consistency".

Verb tense consistency -
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/601/08/
avatar
NaClmine
Senior Member
Senior Member

Male
Posts : 397
Location : California
Joined : 2009-02-10

http://www.lasthumanwar.com

Back to top Go down

Re: The Past-Past Tense

Post by Lady Goodman on Mon Jun 15, 2009 12:05 am

How sad is it that I knew there were such things as "past perfect" verbs in Spanish, but not in English. Oh man, what I wouldn't give to have learned English as a second language. sarcasm
avatar
Lady Goodman
Senior Member

Female
Posts : 271
Age : 29
Location : Kansas
Joined : 2009-03-30

Back to top Go down

Re: The Past-Past Tense

Post by Guest on Mon Jun 15, 2009 3:24 pm

I'm actually quite well versed in these verb forms. I speak fluent Spanish (I'm Puerto Rican) so this concept is very ingrained in me.

The part that is making me grimace is that keeping this small portion (only two paragraphs) in the past perfect makes it read clunkily. Then there is the completely confusing fact that I have just run into a very similar syntactic situation (nearly identical) in the book I am currently reading (Mind Changer by James White) where he simply makes it clear that the next bit takes place further in the past than the current action which is written in the simple past tense, and precedes to write this interjected further-in-the-past bit in the simple past tense as well.

The grammarian in me knows that what Mr White has done is not grammar-kosher, yet his way reads so much more cleanly.

Conundrum. No


Last edited by Wreybies on Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:10 pm; edited 1 time in total

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: The Past-Past Tense

Post by Lady Goodman on Mon Jun 15, 2009 3:29 pm

Haha. Annoying right? Please the editors or please the readers. Sigh. I'd MUCH rather please the readers, but you don't get readers unless you please the editor's first.

avatar
Lady Goodman
Senior Member

Female
Posts : 271
Age : 29
Location : Kansas
Joined : 2009-03-30

Back to top Go down

Re: The Past-Past Tense

Post by Guest on Mon Jun 15, 2009 3:44 pm

Lady Goodman wrote:Haha. Annoying right? Please the editors or please the readers. Sigh. I'd MUCH rather please the readers, but you don't get readers unless you please the editor's first.



Complete agreement! I'm like, hello, I know this is probably wrong, and yet here it is in published print, mocking me. Maybe I should just put up a bit of this portion I am writing to show what I am talking about. scratch

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: The Past-Past Tense

Post by NaClmine on Mon Jun 15, 2009 3:52 pm

According to one of the members of my writers' group who has had a dozen books published (romance genre), if you have a compelling story, you don't need to worry much about scattered writing issues like this. She says the initial decision to publish your story will have been made by the Acquisitions Editor, so a style issue like this one will fall into the jurisdiction of the copy editor (commonly referred to as "grammar nazis"). The Copy Editor’s job is to clean up the manuscript before publication. Just make sure any "issues" are beyond the first three chapters, because the Acquisition Editor’s initial decision about your story will pretty much be based on those first three chapters, the summary and your bio (if you been published before).
avatar
NaClmine
Senior Member
Senior Member

Male
Posts : 397
Location : California
Joined : 2009-02-10

http://www.lasthumanwar.com

Back to top Go down

Re: The Past-Past Tense

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 :: Writing Issues :: SPaG

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum