Mastering Present Perfect Tense

Mastering Present Perfect Tense
Mastering Present Perfect Tense

Mastering the present perfect tense is quite necessary while writing fiction as it allows connecting the past with the present, which is necessary for various plots in a story. It also enhances the clarity and flow of the story, letting the writer express and communicate complex plot elements. Here are a few tips on how to ace this particular tense.

1. Understanding:

The first step in learning is understanding the basics. To master the present perfect tense, you need to understand the basic structure (has/have + past principle of the verb) and how this can be implemented in your story.

The present perfect tense is used for plots where the past actions of a character are affecting the present plot, when the plot requires an unspecified time in the past or when a particular duration is to be written.

The use of present perfect tense can be seen in Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel “Never Let Me Go”: “Over the years, we’ve grown closer and closer. We’ve shared so much, [we’ve] experienced so many things together, and through it all, we’ve remained the best of friends. Now, looking back, I realize how much these moments have shaped who we’ve become. We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve always managed to find our way back to each other.”

2. Practice:

To learn a topic or a skill, you must practice it regularly. Setting up a daily routine, which includes practising grammar, particularly “present perfect tense”, can help you improve your understanding of present perfect tense easily.

You can start by learning to write single sentences, moving further with writing small paragraphs, and then a micro plot. This step-by-step practice can help you improve faster. While this might seem irrelevant, practice makes you familiar with the tense, decreasing your chances of making mistakes and improving your storytelling skills.

3. Reading and listening:

While practising helps you reduce mistakes, reading helps you extend your knowledge about the usage of the tense. You can read books, news articles, and blogs and listen to podcasts and speeches to increase your knowledge. This can also be done by watching shows and movies to get an idea of how a perfectly framed sentence sounds. This will help you present your plots in a better way.

4. Collocations:

In the present perfect tense, it is common to see collocations. Collocations are a pair or groups of words that are usually used together. Using them correctly can help you convey plots more precisely, increase sentence clarity and fluency, and make your writing idiomatic, ultimately engaging the reader.

While collocations can be used in any sentence, you need to learn to use them accurately.

Some examples can be seen in Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express”: “Poirot has carefully observed the passengers and has gathered the clues. He has pieced together the puzzle and has arrived at the truth. The mystery has been solved through his keen insight and meticulous investigation.”

5. Feedback:

You can improve with practice, but to check your progress, you need an outside perspective. So, to see your improvement, mistakes, and weaknesses you need feedback from someone. For this, you need a person to review your writing. You can ask a friend, beta reader, or editor for feedback on a small piece of content. This will not only help you improve but also help you counter your weak points.

Here’s an extract from Ian McEwan’s “Enduring Love” to understand the use of present perfect tense: “I’ve seen things and done things, and they’re with me always. They have shaped me, ** [they’ve] made** me into who I am, and I can’t escape them.”

It’s important to learn the present perfect tense as it can help writers animate their stories and make their creations feel more real and memorable. It builds bridges and connections between the actions of the past and the present and adds a lot of depth, layers, and context to the story.

Happy Writing!!