Musings and Verb Tenses

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On a day like today, I celebrate working from home. Through the large, picture window to my left I watch the intermittent rain spitting from the soft, gray blanket that’s hiding the sun. Behind me to my right, bird song lilts through open windows in the living room. This day looks like a dreary October occurrence, but it has the feel of springtime. And here I am, working my dream job. It made me think of you, the authors that help me live this dream. So I thought I’d take this time to give you a quick rule and some encouragement.

In writing, it’s important to use parallel construction. If you use a certain verb tense in one part of a sentence, you need to use the same verb tense for the other parts. For instance, if I said, “This day has been planned by God, He saw the outcome in advance, and His infinite wisdom has prepared us for this moment,” you can readily see that my middle verb tense does not match the other two. I deviated from the sentence construction and lost my parallel status.

But don’t worry, this is an easy fix!

This day has been planned by God, He has seen the outcome in advance, and His infinite wisdom has prepared us for this moment.

Here’s another fix. This one actually strengthens and tightens the writing by getting rid of the present perfect tense and replacing it with the simple past tense.

This day was planned by God, He saw the outcome in advance, and His infinite wisdom prepared us for this moment.

I hope by now you see not only the importance of parallel construction with verb tenses but the greater importance of recognizing God’s hand in your circumstance. You may need that little push of hope today to realize this wasn’t an accident; it will work together for good. Or you may simply be rejoicing with me that a recent trial has passed, and you are in a season of restoration.

Whatever your situation, remember God is not angry with you, He is pleased. You are His beloved.

Pleasant penning,

Rachel E. Newman
Freelance Editor and Indexer
Certified Paralegal

The grammatical rules used in this post can be found in The Chicago Manual of Style, 5.212, 5.124, and 5.126.

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