*Magnify*
    December     ►
SMTWTFS
   
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
Archive RSS
SPONSORED LINKS
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/525263
Rated: E · Book · Educational · #1299892
For all tips and guidelines to help improve your writing skills.
#525263 added September 6, 2007 at 12:09am
Restrictions: None
Shifts
SHIFTS

         What is a shift? It's an unncessary change from one kind of construction to another - for example, from present to past tense, from active to passive voice, from an indirect to a direct quotation. Any kind of shift hampers communication by focusing the reader's attention on the syntax rather than on the message. Hence, when editing your short story, watch for shifts that you may have created in early drafts when you were concentrating on ideas rather than grammatical structure.
         Some of the more common shift errors noticed in stories can be broken down into several categories:

*Note1*Shifts in Verb Tenses
*Note1*Shifts with Can/Could or Will/Would
*Note1*Shifts in Mood
*Note1*Shifts in Voice
*Note1*Shifts in Number
*Note1*Shifts in Person
*Note1*Shifts between Direct and Indirect Discourse
*Note1*Mixed Constructions and Faulty Predication


SHIFTS IN VERB TENSES
         Due to the variety of possible contexts, it is difficult to make rules about the sequence of verb tenses. Nevertheless, any tense shifts must be logical so that the reader can follow the movement of your prose.

(1)Present and Past Tenses
         Sometimes, the first sentence in a passage establishes a time context - either present or past. Once established, the time should not shift illogically between the present and past tenses.

MIXED TIME:
My brother collects [present] used furniture, not antique. He thinks [present] that the prices of antiques are [present] so high that used furniture is [present] a good buy. Also, he enjoyed [past] repairing and refinishing bargains that he picked up [past] in places like auctions and garage sales.


CONSISTENT PRESENT TIME:
My brother collects used furniture, not antique. He thinks that the prices of antiques are so high that used furniture is a good buy. Also, he enjoys repairing and refinishing bargains that he picks up in places like auctions and garage sales.


CONSISTENT PAST TIME:
My brother collected used furniture, not antique. He thought that the prices of antiques were so high that used furniture was a good buy. Also, he enjoyed repairing and refinishing bargains that he picked up in places like auctions and garage sales.


(1)Perfect Tenses
         The perfect tenses allow a writer to record layers of time - to show the relationship between the time of one occurence and the time of another. In general, use the present perfect and past perfect tenses as follows:

*Bullet* Use the present perfect tense (have/has + past participle) along with present tense or time.
*Bullet* Use the past perfect tense (had + past participle) along with past tense or time.

MIXED TIME:
Obviously, the architect's travels have influenced [present perfect] his work. All his designs reflected [past] the houses he has visited [present perfect] in Tokyo.


CONSISTENT PRESENT TIME:
Obviously, the architect's travels have influenced [present perfect] his work. All his designs reflect [present] the houses he has visited [present perfect] in Tokyo.


CONSISTENT PAST TIME:
Obviously, the architect's travels had influenced [past perfect] his work. All his designs reflected [past] the houses he had visited [past perfect] in Tokyo.


         The future perfect tense (will + have + past participle) is rarely used because the simple future (will + base form) is usually adequate. The future perfect is appropriate, however, when the context includes another future time expressed by a present tense verb or by an adverb of time.

MIXED TIME:
The game will have begun [future perfect] by the time we will arrive [future].


REVISED:
The game will have begun [future perfect] by the time we arrive [present].


REVISED:
The game will have begun [future perfect] by dark [adverb].


*Note3*SHIFTS WITH CAN/COULD OR WILL/WOULD
         Conversational English allows a casual use of the auxiliaries can, could, will and would. But in written English, the conventions for the use of these words are rather strict. In general, follow these guidelines.

*Bullet* Use can with will and could with would.
*Bullet* Use can with will with present tense and time.
*Bullet* Use could and would with past tense and time.

SHIFTED: If I could borrow a car, I will go to the dance.
CONSISTENT: If I could borrow a car, I would go to the dance.
CONSISTENT: If I can borrow a car, I will go to the dance.

SHIFTED: Jaffe predicts[present] that current trends could double the shortage in ten years.
CONSISTENT: Jaffe predicts[present] that current trends can double the shortage in ten years.
CONSISTENT: Jaffe predicted[past] that current trends could double the shortage in ten years.

SHIFTED: If the trees are cut down[present], the house would lose its charm.
CONSISTENT: If the trees are cut down[present], the house will lose its charm.
CONSISTENT: If the trees were cut down[present], the house would lose its charm.

*Note3*SHIFTS IN MOOD
         The indicative is the verb mood most common in prose. But sometimes, for special meanings, you use the imperative or subjunctive mood. You can mix moods when the logic of a passage demands the shift, but an unnecessary or illogical shift results in awkward prose.

SHIFTED: If I were[subjunctive] an honor student and I was[indicative] ready to graduate, I would apply to a medical school.
CONSISTENT: If I were[subjunctive] an honor student and I were[subjunctive] ready to graduate, I would apply to a medical school.

SHIFTED: In one day, eat[imperative] no more than 30 milligrams of cholesterol, and you should drink[indicative] no more than 4 ounces of alcohol.
CONSISTENT: In one day, eat[imperative] no more than 30 milligrams of cholesterol, and you drink[imperative] no more than 4 ounces of alcohol.
CONSISTENT: In one day, should eat[indicative] no more than 30 milligrams of cholesterol, and you should drink[indicative] no more than 4 ounces of alcohol.

*Note3*SHIFTS IN VOICE
         The term voice refers to whether the subject of a sentence performs the action (active voice) or receives the action (passive voice). You should not shift, without good reason, between active and passive voice - particularly within a sentence. A shift in voice usually results in an awkward and cumbersome sentence.

SHIFTED: In the eighteenth century, Noah Webster set out[active] to make American English independent from British English; and through his books, great influence was exerted[passive] on the language.
CONSISTENT: In the eighteenth century, Noah Webster set out to make American English independent from British English; and through his books, he exerted great influence on the language.

*Note3*SHIFTS IN NUMBER
         The term number refers to singular (one) and plural (more than one). You should not shift carelessly between singular and plural nouns that should have the same number.

SHIFTED: Beekeepers wear protective veils over their face.
REVISED: Beekeepers wear protective veils over their faces.

SHIFTED: Frequently, a person exercise to relieve stress. As a result, people sometimes become psychologically dependent on excessive exercising.
REVISED: Frequently, people exercise to relieve stress and, as a result, sometimes become psychologically dependent on excessive exercising.

*Note3*SHIFTS IN PERSON
         The term person refers to the first person (I, we), second person (you), and third person (all other pronouns and all nouns). Shifts in person usually involve you and a noun. If you are directly addressing your reader, you can revise these shifts by using you consistently. However, if you are referring to a group of people in general, revising in the third person is the better solution.

SHIFTED: Off campus students should use the bus system because you get frustrated trying to park every day.
REVISED IN SECOND PERSON: If you live off campus, you should use the bus system because you will get frustrated trying to park every day.
REVISED IN THIRD PERSON: Off campus students should use the bus system because they get frustrated trying to park every day.

© Copyright 2007 iKïyå§ama (UN: satet at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
iKïyå§ama has granted Writing.Com, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/525263