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Mastering Verb Tense and the Five-Paragraph Essay

My instructor says that I need to work on my verb tense. I'm also having a difficult time with paragraph structure. Can you provide me with an example of what my teacher might be looking for?

This response is going to help you combine everything that you should know about grammar upon completion of your first year of college; especially in regards to verb tense and shifts in tense. For this practice assignment, you will be following the five paragraph standard for essays and using the three standard verb tenses: present, past, and future. If you have received your essays back with comments that say "watch your verb tense" this response is perfect for you.

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As a starting point, review the information provided on this website (http://ucollege.illinoisstate.edu/downloads/WritingWorksheet-ShiftsinTense.pdf). It will show you how to control shifts in tense and give you further explanation about the different parts of an essay.

Your biography should give a vivid picture of your thoughts and contain as much detail as the essay provided at the bottom of this page. Make sure:

- that you provide background information for your reader
- that your verb tense is consistent
- that you clearly define the word "name"

This website (http://www.dailywritingtips.com/sentence-flow/) provides you with a good example of how your sentences should flow. Be cognizant of all of the detail that is provided in the excerpt at the bottom of the page. Some other good writing examples are provided on this website (http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/dick/tta/sentstruc/sentstruc.htm).

Outline for your essay...

1. Introduction
-Definition of the word "name"
-Implied Thesis - is about your name and who you are (I am...)

2. 3 body paragraphs (Controlling ideas - I am 123, I was ABC, I will be XYZ)
-I am 123 (description); my name means XYZ
-I was ABC (life changing event)
-I will be XYZ (dreams and ambitions)

3. Conclusion

Explain "what's in a name." Start your essay with the definition of the word "name." You can paraphrase a definition of the word, give a literal definition or provide your own personal definition; anything creative.

The stanzas below, from Virginia Wolff's "Make Lemonade," provide information that you may want to include in your essay to help you define the word name. Instead of offering a literal definition of the word, providing answers to the following questions will suffice. Be sure to read the stanzas below first before answering the questions. Your responses will serve as the foundation of your first paragraph:

- What do you think about when you hear the word "jolly?"
- What can you discern about a person named Jolly given their name?
- Does Jolly's attitude reflect the ...

Solution Summary

If you're having a difficult time deciding on a paper topic, the information provided in this excerpt might help. It not only provides you with an outline, but sources that you can use to support your claims, and grammar help along the way. After reviewing this entry, you should have a clear idea of how to structure a five-paragraph essay, and know when to use a specific verb tense.