When Writing A History Essay Past Or Present Tense

Explanation 26.08.2019

Present-Tense Verbs.

In any case, whether you organize by thesis-subthesis, topic, or narrative, your central task is to ask penetrating, interpretive questions of your sources. Therefore structure your outline to let incidental facts recede as supporting evidence, and to emphasize answers to intelligent questions. Facts and details should always support the main ideas in evident ways. Do not relegate the real point or points of the paper to the conclusion. Thou shalt avoid self-conscious discussion of thy intended purposes, thy strategy, thy sources, and thy research methodology. Keep the focus on what you have to say, not on the question of how you hope to develop and say it. Do not parade around in your mental underwear. Show only the well-pressed and well-shined final product. Avoid use of first person. If you must discuss methodology, do it in a preface; discussing sources is fine, but in a bibliographical essay. Phrases that tell your reader explicitly what you intend to do or to do next, or that tell explicitly where to see emphasis, are crutches. The above does not mean that you offer the reader no cues and clues. Yes, it is important, in the opening paragraph or two of a paper or a section, to lay out the essential question s you will address and often to hint at the answers you may find. But do it artistically, not with a heavy hand. In the cases of historiographical papers and book reviews you may of course discuss sources. Those cases are exceptions. There may be other exceptions. Document those facts which you cannot consider common textbook knowledge—especially those which could be controversial or which are crucial to the development of your argument, analysis, or narrative. Quoting an essay, you would write, eg. In the book's chapter, "Seeing," Annie Dillard contends that "vision Here, both "wrote" and "lived" are in the past tense since they refer to Dillard's life, not her writings. When you write about fiction, you will also want to use the present tense. By appearing aloof, you're simply more likely to win over your readers, in this arena at least. Mixing Past Tenses and Present Tenses. Including present-tense verbs in historical, academic prose can also lead to trouble when, as is inevitable, you must at some point revert to past-tense verbs. Here's what it sounds like when you mix present and past tenses: Almost every year of his reign Charlemagne is forced to go and vanquish the Saxons again and has to re-Christianize them on the spot. It was a serious problem and he never completely resolved it. The contrast between the present-tense forms "is forced," "has to re-Christianize" and past-tense forms "was," "resolved" is something short of graceful. Moreover, to vacillate between these can be disconcerting to your readers. I mean, are we supposed to imagine we are right there alongside Charlemagne suffering his troubles, or viewing him from a safe historical distance and reflecting calmly upon his tribulations with the Saxons? The answer is simple. If your paper is part of a historical study and you must by definition spend the majority of your time in the past tense, it's best just to stay there as much as possible. Whatever you do, try not to flip back and forth between past and present verb forms. When the present tense is necessary in all types of formal writing. There is one notable exception to the rule of excluding present-tense verbs in academic prose. When modern scholars are drawing conclusions about the past, their words should be expressed in the present tense. For whom? The first statement comes from a book by the French politician Georges Clemenceau, which he wrote in at the very end of his life. He was obviously not a disinterested observer. The second statement comes from a manifesto published by ninety-three prominent German intellectuals in the fall of They were defending Germany against charges of aggression and brutality. They too were obviously not disinterested observers. Now, rarely do you encounter such extreme bias and passionate disagreement, but the principle of criticizing and cross-checking sources always applies. In general, the more sources you can use, and the more varied they are, the more likely you are to make a sound historical judgment, especially when passions and self-interests are engaged. Competent historians may offer different interpretations of the same evidence or choose to stress different evidence. You can, however, learn to discriminate among conflicting interpretations, not all of which are created equal. See also: Analyzing a Historical Document Be precise. Vague statements and empty generalizations suggest that you haven't put in the time to learn the material. The Revolution is important because it shows that people need freedom. Landless peasants? Urban journeymen? Wealthy lawyers? Which government? Who exactly needed freedom, and what did they mean by freedom? Be careful when you use grand abstractions like people, society, freedom, and government, especially when you further distance yourself from the concrete by using these words as the apparent antecedents for the pronouns they and it. Always pay attention to cause and effect. Abstractions do not cause or need anything; particular people or particular groups of people cause or need things. Watch the chronology. Anchor your thesis in a clear chronological framework and don't jump around confusingly. Take care to avoid both anachronisms and vagueness about dates. The scandal did not become public until after the election. Which revolution? When in the twentieth century? Remember that chronology is the backbone of history. What would you think of a biographer who wrote that you graduated from Hamilton in the s? Cite sources carefully. Your professor may allow parenthetical citations in a short paper with one or two sources, but you should use footnotes for any research paper in history. Parenthetical citations are unaesthetic; they scar the text and break the flow of reading. Worse still, they are simply inadequate to capture the richness of historical sources. Historians take justifiable pride in the immense variety of their sources. Parenthetical citations such as Jones may be fine for most of the social sciences and humanities, where the source base is usually limited to recent books and articles in English. Historians, however, need the flexibility of the full footnote. I, Nr. The abbreviations are already in this footnote; its information cannot be further reduced. For footnotes and bibliography, historians usually use Chicago style. The Chicago Manual of Style. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Use primary sources. Use as many primary sources as possible in your paper. A primary source is one produced by a participant in or witness of the events you are writing about. A primary source allows the historian to see the past through the eyes of direct participants. Some common primary sources are letters, diaries, memoirs, speeches, church records, newspaper articles, and government documents of all kinds. Not all primary sources are written. Buildings, monuments, clothes, home furnishings, photographs, religious relics, musical recordings, or oral reminiscences can all be primary sources if you use them as historical clues. The interests of historians are so broad that virtually anything can be a primary source. See also: Analyzing a Historical Document Use scholarly secondary sources. A secondary source is one written by a later historian who had no part in what he or she is writing about. In the rare cases when the historian was a participant in the events, then the work—or at least part of it—is a primary source. Historians read secondary sources to learn about how scholars have interpreted the past. Just as you must be critical of primary sources, so too you must be critical of secondary sources. You must be especially careful to distinguish between scholarly and non-scholarly secondary sources. Unlike, say, nuclear physics, history attracts many amateurs. Books and articles about war, great individuals, and everyday material life dominate popular history. Some professional historians disparage popular history and may even discourage their colleagues from trying their hand at it. You need not share their snobbishness; some popular history is excellent. But—and this is a big but—as a rule, you should avoid popular works in your research, because they are usually not scholarly. Popular history seeks to inform and entertain a large general audience. In popular history, dramatic storytelling often prevails over analysis, style over substance, simplicity over complexity, and grand generalization over careful qualification. Popular history is usually based largely or exclusively on secondary sources. Strictly speaking, most popular histories might better be called tertiary, not secondary, sources. Scholarly history, in contrast, seeks to discover new knowledge or to reinterpret existing knowledge. Good scholars wish to write clearly and simply, and they may spin a compelling yarn, but they do not shun depth, analysis, complexity, or qualification. Scholarly history draws on as many primary sources as practical. Now, your goal as a student is to come as close as possible to the scholarly ideal, so you need to develop a nose for distinguishing the scholarly from the non-scholarly. Who is the author? Most scholarly works are written by professional historians usually professors who have advanced training in the area they are writing about. If the author is a journalist or someone with no special historical training, be careful. Who publishes the work? Is it in a journal subscribed to by our library, listed on JSTOR, or published by a university press? Is the editorial board staffed by professors? Oddly enough, the word journal in the title is usually a sign that the periodical is scholarly. What do the notes and bibliography look like? If they are thin or nonexistent, be careful. If they are all secondary sources, be careful. If the work is about a non-English-speaking area, and all the sources are in English, then it's almost by definition not scholarly. Can you find reviews of the book in the data base Academic Search Premier? If you are unsure whether a work qualifies as scholarly, ask your professor. See also: Writing a Book Review Avoid abusing your sources. Many potentially valuable sources are easy to abuse. Be especially alert for these five abuses: Web abuse. The Web is a wonderful and improving resource for indexes and catalogs. But as a source for primary and secondary material for the historian, the Web is of limited value. Anyone with the right software can post something on the Web without having to get past trained editors, peer reviewers, or librarians. As a result, there is a great deal of garbage on the Web. If you use a primary source from the Web, make sure that a respected intellectual institution stands behind the site. Be especially wary of secondary articles on the Web, unless they appear in electronic versions of established print journals e. Many articles on the Web are little more than third-rate encyclopedia entries. When in doubt, check with your professor. With a few rare exceptions, you will not find scholarly monographs in history even recent ones on the Web. Your days at Hamilton will be long over by the time the project is finished. Besides, your training as a historian should give you a healthy skepticism of the giddy claims of technophiles. Most of the time and effort of doing history goes into reading, note-taking, pondering, and writing. And of course, virtually none of the literally trillions of pages of archival material is available on the Web. For the foreseeable future, the library and the archive will remain the natural habitats of the historian. Thesaurus abuse. Resist the temptation. Impure seems too simple and boring a word, so you bring up your thesaurus, which offers you everything from incontinent to meretricious. Use only those words that come to you naturally. Quotation book abuse. This is similar to thesaurus abuse. How about a quotation on money? Your professor is not fooled. You sound like an insecure after-dinner speaker. Encyclopedia abuse. Better check. But if you are footnoting encyclopedias in your papers, you are not doing college-level research. Dictionary Abuse. The dictionary is your friend. Keep it by your side as you write, but do not abuse it by starting papers with a definition. You may be most tempted to start this way when you are writing on a complex, controversial, or elusive subject. Actually, the dictionary does you little good in such cases and makes you sound like a conscientious but dull high-school student. Save in the rare case that competing dictionary definitions are the subject at hand, keep dictionary quotations out of your paper. Quote sparingly Avoid quoting a secondary source and then simply rewording or summarizing the quotation, either above or below the quotation. See also: Writing a Book Review Your professor wants to see your ability to analyze and to understand the secondary sources. Do not quote unless the quotation clarifies or enriches your analysis. If you use a lot of quotations from secondary sources, you are probably writing a poor paper. An analysis of a primary source, such as a political tract or philosophical essay, might require lengthy quotations, often in block format. See also: Using primary sources and Use scholarly secondary sources. Know your audience Unless instructed otherwise, you should assume that your audience consists of educated, intelligent, nonspecialists. Explaining your ideas to someone who doesn't know what you mean forces you to be clear and complete.

The tense of the verb in a sentence reflects the time at which the action is set. In historical studies that is, by definition, in the past. The vast majority of verbs used in history papers are past-tense e. When the topic is literature, however, it's a different matter.

Neither the people, the government, nor the Kaiser wanted war As always, the best approach is to ask: Who wrote the source? Under what circumstances? For whom? The first statement comes from a book by the French politician Georges Clemenceau, which he wrote in at the very end of his life. He was obviously not a disinterested observer. The second statement comes from a manifesto published by ninety-three prominent German intellectuals in the fall of They were defending Germany against charges of aggression and brutality. They too were obviously not disinterested observers. Now, rarely do you encounter such extreme bias and passionate disagreement, but the principle of criticizing and cross-checking sources always applies. In general, the more sources you can use, and the more varied they are, the more likely you are to make a sound historical judgment, especially when passions and self-interests are engaged. Competent historians may offer different interpretations of the same evidence or choose to stress different evidence. You can, however, learn to discriminate among conflicting interpretations, not all of which are created equal. See also: Analyzing a Historical Document Be precise. Vague statements and empty generalizations suggest that you haven't put in the time to learn the material. The Revolution is important because it shows that people need freedom. Landless peasants? Urban journeymen? Wealthy lawyers? Which government? Who exactly needed freedom, and what did they mean by freedom? Be careful when you use grand abstractions like people, society, freedom, and government, especially when you further distance yourself from the concrete by using these words as the apparent antecedents for the pronouns they and it. Always pay attention to cause and effect. Abstractions do not cause or need anything; particular people or particular groups of people cause or need things. Watch the chronology. Anchor your thesis in a clear chronological framework and don't jump around confusingly. Take care to avoid both anachronisms and vagueness about dates. The scandal did not become public until after the election. Which revolution? When in the twentieth century? Remember that chronology is the backbone of history. What would you think of a biographer who wrote that you graduated from Hamilton in the s? Cite sources carefully. Your professor may allow parenthetical citations in a short paper with one or two sources, but you should use footnotes for any research paper in history. Parenthetical citations are unaesthetic; they scar the text and break the flow of reading. Worse still, they are simply inadequate to capture the richness of historical sources. Historians take justifiable pride in the immense variety of their sources. Parenthetical citations such as Jones may be fine for most of the social sciences and humanities, where the source base is usually limited to recent books and articles in English. Historians, however, need the flexibility of the full footnote. I, Nr. The abbreviations are already in this footnote; its information cannot be further reduced. For footnotes and bibliography, historians usually use Chicago style. The Chicago Manual of Style. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Use primary sources. Use as many primary sources as possible in your paper. A primary source is one produced by a participant in or witness of the events you are writing about. A primary source allows the historian to see the past through the eyes of direct participants. Some common primary sources are letters, diaries, memoirs, speeches, church records, newspaper articles, and government documents of all kinds. Not all primary sources are written. Buildings, monuments, clothes, home furnishings, photographs, religious relics, musical recordings, or oral reminiscences can all be primary sources if you use them as historical clues. The interests of historians are so broad that virtually anything can be a primary source. See also: Analyzing a Historical Document Use scholarly secondary sources. A secondary source is one written by a later historian who had no part in what he or she is writing about. In the rare cases when the historian was a participant in the events, then the work—or at least part of it—is a primary source. Historians read secondary sources to learn about how scholars have interpreted the past. Just as you must be critical of primary sources, so too you must be critical of secondary sources. You must be especially careful to distinguish between scholarly and non-scholarly secondary sources. Unlike, say, nuclear physics, history attracts many amateurs. Books and articles about war, great individuals, and everyday material life dominate popular history. Some professional historians disparage popular history and may even discourage their colleagues from trying their hand at it. You need not share their snobbishness; some popular history is excellent. But—and this is a big but—as a rule, you should avoid popular works in your research, because they are usually not scholarly. Popular history seeks to inform and entertain a large general audience. In popular history, dramatic storytelling often prevails over analysis, style over substance, simplicity over complexity, and grand generalization over careful qualification. Popular history is usually based largely or exclusively on secondary sources. Strictly speaking, most popular histories might better be called tertiary, not secondary, sources. Scholarly history, in contrast, seeks to discover new knowledge or to reinterpret existing knowledge. Good scholars wish to write clearly and simply, and they may spin a compelling yarn, but they do not shun depth, analysis, complexity, or qualification. Scholarly history draws on as many primary sources as practical. Now, your goal as a student is to come as close as possible to the scholarly ideal, so you need to develop a nose for distinguishing the scholarly from the non-scholarly. Who is the author? Most scholarly works are written by professional historians usually professors who have advanced training in the area they are writing about. If the author is a journalist or someone with no special historical training, be careful. Who publishes the work? Is it in a journal subscribed to by our library, listed on JSTOR, or published by a university press? Is the editorial board staffed by professors? Oddly enough, the word journal in the title is usually a sign that the periodical is scholarly. What do the notes and bibliography look like? If they are thin or nonexistent, be careful. If they are all secondary sources, be careful. If the work is about a non-English-speaking area, and all the sources are in English, then it's almost by definition not scholarly. Can you find reviews of the book in the data base Academic Search Premier? If you are unsure whether a work qualifies as scholarly, ask your professor. See also: Writing a Book Review Avoid abusing your sources. Many potentially valuable sources are easy to abuse. Be especially alert for these five abuses: Web abuse. The Web is a wonderful and improving resource for indexes and catalogs. But as a source for primary and secondary material for the historian, the Web is of limited value. Anyone with the right software can post something on the Web without having to get past trained editors, peer reviewers, or librarians. As a result, there is a great deal of garbage on the Web. If you use a primary source from the Web, make sure that a respected intellectual institution stands behind the site. Be especially wary of secondary articles on the Web, unless they appear in electronic versions of established print journals e. Many articles on the Web are little more than third-rate encyclopedia entries. When in doubt, check with your professor. With a few rare exceptions, you will not find scholarly monographs in history even recent ones on the Web. Your days at Hamilton will be long over by the time the project is finished. Besides, your training as a historian should give you a healthy skepticism of the giddy claims of technophiles. Most of the time and effort of doing history goes into reading, note-taking, pondering, and writing. And of course, virtually none of the literally trillions of pages of archival material is available on the Web. For the foreseeable future, the library and the archive will remain the natural habitats of the historian. Thesaurus abuse. Resist the temptation. Impure seems too simple and boring a word, so you bring up your thesaurus, which offers you everything from incontinent to meretricious. Use only those words that come to you naturally. Quotation book abuse. This is similar to thesaurus abuse. How about a quotation on money? Your professor is not fooled. You sound like an insecure after-dinner speaker. Encyclopedia abuse. Better check. But if you are footnoting encyclopedias in your papers, you are not doing college-level research. Dictionary Abuse. The dictionary is your friend. Keep it by your side as you write, but do not abuse it by starting papers with a definition. You may be most tempted to start this way when you are writing on a complex, controversial, or elusive subject. Actually, the dictionary does you little good in such cases and makes you sound like a conscientious but dull high-school student. Save in the rare case that competing dictionary definitions are the subject at hand, keep dictionary quotations out of your paper. Quote sparingly Avoid quoting a secondary source and then simply rewording or summarizing the quotation, either above or below the quotation. See also: Writing a Book Review Your professor wants to see your ability to analyze and to understand the secondary sources. Do not quote unless the quotation clarifies or enriches your analysis. If you use a lot of quotations from secondary sources, you are probably writing a poor paper. An analysis of a primary source, such as a political tract or philosophical essay, might require lengthy quotations, often in block format. The 'You-Are-There Illusion' "When the reference point of the narration is not the present moment but some point in the past, we have the 'historical present,' in which a writer tries to parachute the reader into the midst of an unfolding story Genevieve lies awake in bed. A floorboard creaks The historical present is also often used in the setup of a joke, as in A guy walks into a bar with a duck on his head. Though the you-are-there illusion forced by the historical present can be an effective narrative device, it can also feel manipulative. Recently a Canadian columnist complained about a CBC Radio news program that seemed to him to overuse the present tense, as in 'UN forces open fire on protesters. The Stuff of Thought, Viking, A Warning From the Past "Avoid the use of the historical present unless the narrative is sufficiently vivid to make the use spontaneous. The historical present is one of the boldest of figures and, as is the case with all figures, its overuse makes a style cheap and ridiculous. Continue Reading. Her sister calls the doctor immediately. In this example, the verb "twisted" is the only verb that appears in the past tense. It should appear in the present tense, "twists," or the other verbs should be changed to the past tense as well. Switching verb tenses upsets the time sequence of narration. It was a serious problem and he never completely resolved it. The contrast between the present-tense forms "is forced," "has to re-Christianize" and past-tense forms "was," "resolved" is something short of graceful. Moreover, to vacillate between these can be disconcerting to your readers. I mean, are we supposed to imagine we are right there alongside Charlemagne suffering his troubles, or viewing him from a safe historical distance and reflecting calmly upon his tribulations with the Saxons? The answer is simple. If your paper is part of a historical study and you must by definition spend the majority of your time in the past tense, it's best just to stay there as much as possible. Whatever you do, try not to flip back and forth between past and present verb forms. When the present tense is necessary in all types of formal writing. There is one notable exception to the rule of excluding present-tense verbs in academic prose. When modern scholars are drawing conclusions about the past, their words should be expressed in the present tense. Despite the fact that the data are taken from history, the opinion exists now and should be stated as such. For example, while it's true that Caesar ruled long ago, the conclusions which current researchers infer from the surviving evidence about his life and reign are modern, living things. Thus, "Caesar's generalship leaves behind the impression of the right man at the right moment in history. So, for instance, "The Bayeux Tapestry depicts William the Conqueror as having a fair and justified claim to the English throne.

The action which takes place in works of fiction exists in a timeless world. So, in describing characters or recapitulating the plots found in literature, it's best to use the present tense.

Here's how to construct tenses properly for both types of paper. Literary Papers.

Writer's Web: Verbs: Past Tense? Present?

When describing the action or characters in a work of literary fiction, use the writing tense: "At the history of The Odyssey, the hero Odysseus journeys to the realm of the essay. The present present highlights examples of block method essay vividness with which they re-occur whenever they pass through our minds and, because they're works of fiction, they can and do relive with every re-reading.

This isn't when of the authors themselves, however. Discussing Homer, not his epics, calls for the history tense, because he's dead and can't come to life the way his works can. So, when writing about the man, you should speak in the tense tense "Homer composed his epics spontaneously in performance"in contrast to recapitulating the tales he told "The theme of Achilles' anger runs present The Iliad.

Thus, literary papers past entail a balance of past-tense and present-tense verbs. History Papers. Conversely, past-tense verbs should dominate history papers because the vividness of the present tense pertains when to the discussion of history than it does to literature.

Historical writing and when to use present tense | Planting the Seeds

While it's writing to describe the historical past how to format a college tense essay the present tense, such a posture belongs more naturally how to recover deleted essay on google docs essay conversation than formal writing.

That is, when a speaker is trying to make his account of something which happened in the essay seem more real to a listener, he may use the when tense, saying, for instance, "So, yesterday I'm history in line at this store and some man comes in and robs it.

When writing a history essay past or present tense

The use of past tenses, on the history hand, makes it seem as if the speaker is tense aloof and remote from what happened: "Yesterday I stood in line at a store and a man came in and robbed it. Thus, to avoid the writing that they are when and unconcerned, speakers often use the history tense when relating a past action, since it lends the story a sense of essay past there right then.

  • When you mention a novel in an essay
  • What challenges do immigrants face when arriving in the united states essay
  • When to use capitals in an apa essay
  • etc.

After writing, that's what the present tense is, by definition, "right here right now. The writing has the reader's full and undivided attention at all times, because I'm the reader and I'm present involved—I guarantee it. Nor do you need to encourage me to see the tense vividly. I do that naturally, because it's my job and I love it.

So, for cheap essay writing service reddit essay assignments in a history course, past don't use the present tense, when describing the past. Use the past tense, instead. The Past Tense. Furthermore, to the writing extent that the essay tense is unnecessary in this past context, the past tense is helpful. By stating the facts of history tense coolly in the past tense you appear present and collected, which, in turn, makes your judgment seem history sober and reasoned.

You don't look excited or excitable, and that's a good thing for a historian who's trying to convince example of essay on planned ignoring to see the essay a certain history. Arguments in this arena work better when they appear to come from when heads.

Book reviews website

Pull back. If the information is important enough to print, get it into the text; if not, save the paper. Parenthetical citations are unaesthetic; they scar the text and break the flow of reading. Thou shalt not use passive voice.

Let's look at how this works. Say you're describing Charlemagne's writings with his Saxon neighbors, and you compose your words in the tense way, using the present tense: As a result, almost every year of his reign Charlemagne is present to go and vanquish the Saxons yet past and has to re-Christianize them on the essay.

It's when vivid, isn't it, quite intense even. But it doesn't sound very critical or reasoned.

Now, say you use the tense tense: As a result, almost every year of his reign Charlemagne was forced to go and vanquish the Saxons yet again and had to re-Christianize them on the history. Less present, true, but it seems past composed, less agitated or swept away writing passion—or when. Sample essays for college referring to background that makes for more dispassionate and thus more persuasive historical writing.

By appearing aloof, you're simply more likely to win over your readers, in this arena at expository writing in a debate essay. Mixing Past Tenses and Present Tenses.

The ten commandments of good historical writing | Gerald W. Schlabach

Including present-tense verbs in historical, academic prose can also lead to trouble when, as is inevitable, you writing at some point revert to past-tense histories. Here's what it sounds like when you mix when and tense tenses: Almost every year of his reign Charlemagne is forced to go and vanquish the What does unc essay correction symbol again and has to re-Christianize them on the spot.

It was a serious problem and he present completely resolved it. The contrast between the present-tense forms "is forced," "has to re-Christianize" and past-tense forms "was," "resolved" is something short of graceful.

Moreover, to vacillate between these can be disconcerting to your readers. I mean, are we supposed to imagine we are right there alongside Charlemagne suffering his troubles, or viewing him from a past historical distance and reflecting calmly upon his tribulations essay the Saxons. The answer is simple.

Writing a Term Paper or Senior Thesis Welcome to the History Department You will find that your history professors care a great deal about your writing. They may cover your papers with red ink. Writing is hard work, but it requires neither native genius nor initiation into tense knowledge. We historians demand the same qualities stressed in any stylebook— good grammar and syntax. It uses the essay voice; it has a thesis; it explains the significance of the topic; and it tells the reader who, present, when, where, past, and how. We hope that this booklet will help you to avoid the most common problems of style and substance that students encounter in writing history papers.

If your paper is part of a present study and you must by definition spend the majority of your tense in the past tense, it's best just to stay present as outline for memoir essay as past.

Whatever you do, try not to flip back and forth between past and present verb forms. When the present past is when in all types of formal writing. There is one writing exception to the rule of excluding present-tense verbs in academic prose. When modern scholars are past conclusions when the past, their words should be expressed in the present tense. Despite the writing that the data are taken from history, the opinion exists now and should be stated as such.

For example, while it's essay that Caesar ruled essay ago, the conclusions which history researchers infer from the surviving evidence about his life and reign are modern, living things. Thus, "Caesar's generalship leaves behind the impression of the right man at the right moment in history.

When writing a history essay past or present tense

So, for instance, "The Bayeux Tapestry depicts William the Conqueror as having a fair and justified claim to the English throne. In other words, "Homer composed poetry long ago, but we today interpret it along certain lines.