Tenses

In print newswriting use past tense most of the time, as in “he said” and “she said”. In print feature writing you can use past or present tense, as in “he says” or “he said”.

In Broadcast use only present tense most of the time, as in “he says” and “she says”.

There are exceptions but the most important rule is to make sure tenses always agree within a sentence.

The Prime Minister said the Government would pass the Bill soon.

The Prime Minister says the Government will pass the Bill soon.

NOT The Prime Minister said the Government will pass the Bill soon.

One exception may arise when you report a speaker who said something but what they said was in the present tense. In which case, the tenses must agree within the sentence which forms the quote.

“I will be blowed if I vote for this Bill,” the Senator said.

Alternatively, you could rewrite as an indirect quote.

The Senator said he would be blowed if he would vote for the Bill.

A tense used far more often in broadcast than in print is the present perfect, as in “has been cut”, “has called for” and “has criticised” rather than the past tense “was cut”, “today called for” and “last night criticised”.

Advertisements

Comments Off on Tenses

Filed under Common style points

Comments are closed.