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Tenses in report writing

Tenses in report writing

Tenses in report writing

(OP)
I am writing a training report and puzzled about what tense should be used.

If I want to say some contractual terms are still under negotiation, what tense (past, present or present prefect tense) should I use?


"At the time of writing this report, there are/were still contractual terms under negotiation" or "....., there have been contractual terms under negotiation".
 

RE: Tenses in report writing

I'm sure that an authoritative style manual could be cited for any of the tenses that you listed.

Just write what you need to communicate in the most concise and unambiguous way possible.  

RE: Tenses in report writing

I write based on the situation at the time of writing.  Therefore, I would use the present tense in your case.

RE: Tenses in report writing

Both are correct but have slightly different meanings. More important is to be consistent. Switching tenses back and forth IS wrong. You may get to another sentence where the choice of tense is clear and that is the one to stick with (with which to stick?).

RE: Tenses in report writing

The term is "pending" and that's present tense.

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Tenses in report writing

My vote:

1.Consistency is key beyond anything else.  
2. And if you are not using present tense, I'd revise everything to present tense.

RE: Tenses in report writing

I agree that consistency is important, but that doesn't preclude using different tenses in the same report.  Things that happened long ago are past, things happening now are present, things yet to happen are future.

RE: Tenses in report writing

Ask your legal team for some legalese words to insert.  You can be sure that whatever you write, they'll be changed before publication.

- Steve

RE: Tenses in report writing

(OP)
Thanks for all advice.

Can I have one more question?

What is the different bwtween "is" and "was" in my sentence. What confuses me is training report writing is normally in past tense as it records what I did or have done in a period. However, in my question, the "contractual term" was under negotiation and is also under negotiation right now. I just don't know what tense I should use!!

RE: Tenses in report writing

In your context, "have been" doesn't really do it - it's a form of Perfect tense that implies that the negotiations were complete.  The juxtaposition with "at the time of writing" just leaves you wondering whether you are worried that some weasel might be about to rewrite history.

"Are still under negotiation" and "were still under negotiation" both work for me, although I'd choose between them based on the undertanding I was trying to convey.  For me, "at the time of writing...were still..." conveys a much stronger sense of "....but that is quite likely to have changed between the time of writing and the time of reading"

A.

RE: Tenses in report writing

(OP)
zeusfaber,

Did you want to say that using "are" implies "there is quite likely to have changed between the time of writing and the time of reading"

RE: Tenses in report writing

No - quite the opposite in fact.

Imagine someone reading your report out loud, and then bringing the listener up to date with latest developments.  Here are two ways it could go:

At the time of writing this report, some contractual terms were still under negotiation; these negotiations have since concluded.

At the time of writing this report, some contractual terms are still under negotiation; these negotiations have since concluded.

The first version works.  The second one doesn't, because it introduces an uncomfortable collision between a present tense verb describing something that was happening before an event described in the perfect (past) tense.

A.

RE: Tenses in report writing

Soi, presently do you want to be a has been or a wannabe?

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Tenses in report writing

Say 'ell with it and write it in Latin . .  or better yet Bahasa Indonesia where there are no tenses!

RE: Tenses in report writing

We used to get our proposals back from our contracts dept with: 'Global "will" to "would"' written in big red letters on the front page.

- Steve

RE: Tenses in report writing

I would use third person, present tense where possible.

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