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Section 6.15.1

Inappropriate Shifts in Tense

As a general rule, verb tenses within a sentence ora paragraph should be consistent. A shift in tensewithout reason distorts the sequence of events being described and will confuseyour reader. For example, if you begin a description with a verb in the past tense, do notswitch to a verb in the present tense.


Weak

Surgery made critical advances in the 19th century. Thediscovery of anesthesia by Crawford Long in 1842 and W. T. G. Morton in 1846gave doctors greater freedom to put their new anatomicalknowledge to practical use. After Louis Pasteur discoveredthat microorganisms caused infections, Joseph Lister (1827-1912), a youngScottish surgeon, realized that antiseptic surgical techniqueswould allow surgeons to suture wounds and avoid infection. Finally, Roentgen reports his discovery of X-rays (orroentgenograms) in 1895, which is immediately put to practicaluse in surgical diagnosis.

Improved

Surgery made critical advances in the 19th century. Thediscovery of anesthesia by Crawford Long in 1842 and W. T. G. Morton in 1846gave doctors greater freedom to put their new anatomicalknowledge to practical use. After Louis Pasteur discoveredthat microorganisms caused infections, Joseph Lister (1827-1912), a youngScottish surgeon, realized that antiseptic surgical techniqueswould allow surgeons to suture wounds and avoid infection. Finally, Roentgen reported his discovery of X-rays (orroentgenograms) in 1895, which was immediately put topractical use in surgical diagnosis.

--Linglei Xu, "Bone Talk," SciTech Magazine (modified)


See also the discussion of sequence of tenses.

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## Inappropriate Shifts in Tense ##
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