Using the Correct Tense

Using the Correct Tense

When writing a business document, it is important to use the correct tense. Whether you are putting together an email, a memo, a business plan, a report, or any other type of business-related writing, using the correct tense will help to keep the document clear and understandable.

For example, if you are writing a report or a summary about a meeting or a conference, since it already occurred, the verbs should be in the past tense, as in “The meeting started on time, with introductory remarks made by Mr. Smith.” Of course, any comments that relate to ongoing activities need to be in the present. An example of that is “Efforts to maintain our market share are proceeding in a satisfactory manner.” Obviously, references to future actions should be written in the future tense, as in the following example: “The new plan will be implemented within 90 days.”

Not to complicate matters, but, within a sentence, you might need to use past, present, and future tenses. The following is an example of that: “Bob said (past) that what we are doing (present) now is (present) sufficient, and we will not need to change (future) our procedure any time soon.”

When writing emails, evaluations, or other business papers, you do not need to consult a style or an English usage book, but you should make every effort to write carefully and correctly, including using the proper tense in every sentence. Not only will your writing look and sound professional, but it is more likely to be correctly understood. The last thing that you want is for colleagues, supervisors, or other individuals who read your writing to misunderstand what you are saying.

If you are unsure about your writing, and want it to be professionally proofread and/or edited, you can upload it to