verb_tense_in_writing_about_literature_3 - Document I: Verb...

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Document I: Verb Tenses for Writing about Literature Background: Students often want to know which tense to use in order to: a. establish context for an interpretation by summarizing or paraphrasing; b. quote in order to provide evidence; c. describe or discuss a character’s personality, appearance, age, profession, or the setting; d. make inferences; e. discuss the story’s or novel’s theme, the author’s intent, or the author’s style. Summarizing and paraphrasing the story’s or novel’s events: You may retell the story’s central action (or, “present time frame,” as it is referred to in English 212) by using either verbs from the present tense or from the past-tense group of verbs. While it is most common to use the present tense, some instructors prefer that you use the past tense because—as you will see in the attached chart--it makes it easier to incorporate quoted material. Writers, including film reviewers, typically use the present tense group of verbs because the piece has relevancy and immediacy for us at the moment of reading or viewing. Check with your instructor to see which style she prefers. Regardless of which tense you choose, you will need to switch verb tenses for different purposes . The attached chart helps you review…. Before studying the chart, make sure you understand what is meant by a story’s or novel’s “central action” or “present
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verb_tense_in_writing_about_literature_3 - Document I: Verb...

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