Caught in the Act 

Caught in the Act

By Azuka Onwuka

So I am lying down on the bed. She tiptoes in and lies down beside me, a funny look on her face. I smiled at her and edge closer. Then our son barged in with his brother hot on his heels. I jump up and ….


Please if you are not an expert in English, never tell any story in the present tense. It is almost impossible for a non-English expert to tell the story all through in English without mixing it up with past tense. And that is wrong and unacceptable.

Since I began reading people tell their story in the present tense on Facebook or on radio/TV, not up to 5 percent of the people have got it right. They usually slip after a few sentences.

If you have ever written any story in the present tense or have ever read any story on the social media written in the present tense, please go back to it and confirm if it free of error of mix-up of present tense and past tense.

For example, in the story above there is a shift from the present tense to the past tense:

I am lying down – present tense

She tiptoes in – present tense

And lies down – present tense

I smiled at her – past tense

And edge closer – present tense

Our son barged in – past tense

I jump up – present tense


It is easier to narrate a story in the past because the things that happened in the story occurred in the past and your mind is tuned to reporting them in the past. Recounting the past in the present tense is challenging. So only experts in English can do it successfully.

Don’t use a method because it sounds funky and trendy or because others are using it. You may end up messing yourself up inadvertently as many have done trying to tell their stories in the present tense.

Many people see me as an expert in English, but I don’t narrate my stories in the present, even though I know that I won’t mix up my tenses if I do. I think it better for whatever happened in the past to remain in the past, unless it is absolutely necessary to recount it in the present tense, which is rare.

So if you want to recount your story in the present tense, feel free to do so. But please don’t do it because others are doing so. Also know that by choosing to recount the past in the present tense, you are walking a tight rope, unless you are an expert in English.

Good luck.

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