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Common mistakes

This section presents a range of common mistakes for students to analyse and consider the reason for the correct verb form.

Have you got a piece of your own writing handy? Check it to see if you are making any of these common mistakes.

Mistake 1 - You do not understand that your choice of tense must be related to the time of writing.

Remember that all tenses indicate time in relation to the time of writing: past, present or future.

Look at this example:

A molecule of water has two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.

The writer has used the simple present tense because he or she is talking about something that is generally or always true in the present.

 

You can also use the simple present to describe a habit:

She goes to the gym every morning.

 

Compare this with:

She went to the gym this morning.

In this sentence the writer has used the simple past tense to talk about a particular event that happened before the time of writing and is finished at the time of writing.

 

 

 

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