Do you write an essay in the past, present, or future tense? Should it be simple, continuous, or perfect?
In case you’re scratching your head thinking what those are, you are not alone. The use of tense in academic writing is as as daunting as it looks — which explains why so many of you get off on the wrong foot for your essays.
There are three common tenses used in academic writing, which make up approximately 98 percent of the tenses used in active and passive voice. Apart from these three, other tenses may also be used in academic writing, but they aren’t as common, which is why we stick to discussing these three:
1. Present Simple
The present simple tenses rank number one on the list for most commonly used tenses in academic writing. It’s considered the default unless stated otherwise. This tense is used to frame a paper right from the introduction up until the conclusion to provide evidence and reasoning of what we already know. It refers to studies, tables, and figures that form the plot of literary work. However, it may also be used to make general statements.
2. Past Simple
The past simple tense is used largely to refer to actions performed or completed in the past. It may be used to report the findings of a former study to provide evidence, to report the results of a study, or to portray the data of an experiment that was completed.
3. Present Perfect
The last from the lot to make it to the top three is present perfect that’s used to refer to research conducted previously, which may be found relevant to this day. The tense is used to introduce a new topic, report, or paper into the academic writing or to summarize the findings of a research conducted formerly. It bridges the gap between the past and the present to create connections between what has been found and how you can contribute.
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